MINISTER’S REPORT 2011/12
In recent years our church has been taking part in the URC programme Vision4Life. This has involved focusing for a year on our use of the Bible, then our relationship to God in prayer and finally in 2011 on sharing of our faith with others. This final theme of Evangelism has been the hardest to get to grips with, but some groundwork was done during 2011 that is bearing fruit now. The year as a whole has involved the church in being:
A welcoming church: the URC encouraged us to explore our welcome of all, and though the national advertising campaign did not come to fruition, we have worked on the welcome we give. The Arts Festival in July 2011 was an excellent opportunity to open up the church to the community and one highlight was the art exhibition of paintings by Revd Elizabeth Gray-King, entitled ‘that you may have life…’
A generous church: Over this last year it has been good to see people rise to the challenge of a potential financial deficit by fundraising, donations and increased giving. Generosity in giving money, time and talents resulted in the financial gap being bridged, with a little to spare. We face a similar challenge this year too!
A learning church: 2nd Sunday discussion evenings, a re-launch of Commitment for Life, the Pilots charities, the launch of the book God’s Passion: praying with Mark, the service on the environment with members of A Rocha, joint Lent Groups and the Jonah series are some examples of events that helped us to learn more about living out our faith. It has also been good to see one of our elders, Derek Hiscocks, exploring theology and worship through TLSLite.
A caring church: much of the care within the church is given informally through friendship, but this is also strengthened through the work of groups and individuals. During 2011 BALM (the group supporting those who have experienced loss) became a well established part of our church’s life. The Pastoral Group has also looked at ways to strengthen our follow up of wedding and other contacts.
A thankful church: there is much to give thanks for and many people to remember with gratitude, in particular over the last year Norah Rose, Kath Skinner, Clive Butcher, Edwina Lewis, Peter Roud and Vera Edwards. May they ‘rest in peace and rise in glory.’ My thanks to all who have given so much to our church’s life, often behind the scenes, maintaining our buildings, providing music and resources for worship, stewarding our finances, leading groups, serving the community, working with young people etc etc.
We launched our 350th Anniversary celebrations on Palm Sunday 1 April at a service where our URC General Secretary Revd Roberta Rominger preached, encouraging us to be courageous in our living out of the Christian faith. We look forward to being inspired in the year ahead, as we give thanks for the past, seek renewal for the present and guidance for the future. As Joseph Hart’s hymn puts it:
‘We’ll praise him for all that is past
And trust him for all that’s to come.’