Rector’s Letter, May 2017
It’s some time since I wrote a Rector’s Letter, and there’s a lot I would like to share with you. Firstly, may I draw to your attention a letter from our Archbishops concerning he General Election? There is a copy in Church on the blue noticeboard, and it can be read in full at https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3977056/electionletter_text.pdf . It is quite substantial, and will repay careful reading.
Secondly, for those of you who were not able to be at our APCM, I would like to repeat here some of what I said in my report, and also give a brief commentary on our new Mission Action Plan, which was published then with an excellent introduction by David Parry-Smith.
In my Rector’s Report I expressed thanks to many, many people – some by name, and others in more general terms – but all of whom make, or have made essential contributions to the life of St Mary’s and the Team. Among them I mentioned some who were stepping down, or had come to the end of their term in particular roles. This is what I said:
‘Alan Clarkson, to whom many thanks are due, is doing much less deputising within the Team churches since Ian Fisher came – but is giving a lot of his time, I believe, to the Balsham Group during their vacancy instead! Alan Cole is stepping down from doing 8 am Communion services on Sundays from now on, but will continue for along time (I hope) to be a hugely important praying and encouraging presence among us, together with Brenda, and someone who takes the Thursday Communions in an inimitable way which that congregation hugely appreciates. Nicola Collard has stood down from Tots in Tow leadership, as recorded in the report from that group, and great thanks are given to her there, but she is consolidating her ministry I of presence in our local schools, particularly with a quasi-chaplaincy role in Linton Heights on a weekly basis. I hope she will be able to develop this further, as school chaplaincy was one of the things that people very much supported in our discussions towards the Mission Action Plan.
John Thorne, of course, is stepping down as Churchwarden with effect from July, when David Watts will be able to take over – but I hope this will set John free to pursue insights and ideas which he is gaining from further training with the diocese in ‘Pioneer Ministry’. Although our MAP doesn’t mention the possibility of setting up or ‘seeding’ new congregations, this is what Pioneer Ministry is about, and we shouldn’t feel restricted over the next five years only to ideas on the MAP: our God is a ‘God of surprises’ after all! Who knows where John (and Sarah’s) gifts and enthusiasm for outreach may take them, and St Mary’s with them, in serving more of the people of this village with the Gospel.?(Of course, the Thornes already have a hugely demanding ministry in leading Messy Church, from which, happily, they are not stepping down!).
Very sad to me is the fact that another important person is having to step down from an essential role: Sue Filby has given us one month’s notice with regard to her role as Rector’s Administrator for family reasons. However, she hopes to continue as our Safeguarding Officer (which is an extremely important and painstaking role). She has been very patient with me in my disorganisation over the last two years, and I’m sure everyone will agree that she has been doing a very good job with the Powerpoints, the News Bulletin, the Pew Sheet,, special service sheets, and much else. I hope we will be able to consolidate the work she has done, and take it forward with a swift appointment of someone else who can take these things forward as well as Sue has done.’
I also spoke about consolidation of the wider Team, made more possible by the coming of Ian Fisher, and again, if you did not hear the report, I would like to share what I said about that, as it will draw your attention to an exciting forthcoming event – our shared fundraising effort through a ‘Farm Visit and Barbecue’ evening on July 15th:
‘We began to try and rebuild Team links a bit during my first year here. This has continued this year with a further Team walk in the autumn, followed by a tea and Taize service at Castle Camps. There was a magnificent All Saints’ evensong at Shudy Camps soon afterwards. , and members of Team churches came here in late January for Ian Fisher’s licensing at a Team Evensong for Candlemas. Ian’s coming has itself enabled more Team working, particularly in producing some common texts for services in the more eucharistically-centred of our churches. On Easter Day a good group of us attended a memorable ‘Service of Light’ at 8 am in Castle Camps, which I hope may become a regular feature. followed by a terrific breakfast Ian has also supported a Team-based ‘Tots’ Praise’ service for those recently baptised in our churches, and their families, and is now a President and sometimes preacher at Linton’s 10 am service on a frequent basis, while I continue to visit other churches within the Team. This is all very good in personal and worship terms. But other consolidation of the Team has been going on, too., in areas not previously touched. WE have agreed among us a formula for the paying our parish share, in which Linton is taking a larger proportion in order to relive some of the smaller churches of the increased demands the diocese was putting upon them. Realising that for some of them at the moment, even the reduced amount they would be left with might prove difficult, we have also agreed to set up a Team Contingency Fund, to be supplied by the proceeds from at least one annual Team based fund-raising event. This year that event is to be a Farm Visit and Barbecue on the evening of 15th July on the Bartlow Estate, by kind invitation of Tim Breitmyer. We hope it will prove popular, as well as fun and informative, and every parish the Team has taken on specific tasks to make it possible. Linton is asked to provide a Bar for the occasion, and I am hoping that some members of the congregation who won’t necessarily have been working hard the week before in our Flower Festival will be able to take on the donkey work for that.
I, personally, am very enthusiastic about this project – the challenge of working together as a Team of 5 Churches to make an occasion a success could be a very bonding thing – consolidating our sense of ‘Team’ in the best way. I hope also that with the development of a new website we will be able to advertise the work of the other parishes and maybe work towards a common accessible calendar. Looking forward, I hope the five parishes may collaborate in the future on specific missionary projects, too.’
Turning to the Mission Action Plan, copies of which are available in church, and on display,
you will see that the long process over last Summer and Autumn of envisioning and consultation has led to a Plan under Seven major Headings: The first relates to steps we might take to discern each other’s gifts, and encourage one another in a diversity of ministry and service within the church; the second focuses on improvements to be made in the Church building to make it more usable and less cluttered – a place whose beauty will carry out a missionary role in itself; the third heading relates to steps we might take in Spiritual Growth, starting with the nurturing of more home groups; the fifth is about the cluster of issues which the churches ecumenically call, ‘Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation’: within this objective comes the creation , maintenance and use of our Peace Garden – which is already underway as the Landscapers give it shape; But as well as this, there is the intention to revitalise social justice initiatives through a group dedicated to that purpose; fifthly, and very importantly, we have plans to improve our communication and advertising in various ways (there are plenty of specific things to do mentioned here); sixthly, and also essentially, we hope to develop and enlarge our Children and Families’ ministry. I am personally hoping to take first steps in this direction over this summer, by meeting with various families to chat with them about what helps them best (children and adults, both together and individually) to grow as Christians and feel close to God; and the last point is about Hospitality and Welcome, which includes plans both for events and – once again – for specific improvement sin our church building to make our hospitality easier and more effective.
All of the ideas the PCC has decided to take on are included on a chart which includes coloured time-lines (for which we are indebted to David Parry- Smith) , denoting in blue the date when we hope to initiate a certain activity, and in orange the ongoing maintenance of it in the church’s life. Please look at this chart carefully, and also at the introductory page to the Mission Action Plan, which places it all under our ‘banner headline of ‘Being Church in Community and being Community in Church’.
In commenting on the Mission Action Plan inn my Rector’s Report, I said this:
The Mission Action Plan for the next five years is before us this evening: I hope the whole St Mary’s community will accept it and embrace it. In future years our APCM will have e an important role in reviewing our progress in achieving the goals we have set, and modifying the plan as we feel led to do so by circumstances and the work of God’s Spirit. AS I have already said, the MAP is intended to be a spur, but not a definitive or exhaustive list of what we might initiate in the years ahead. WE may be led to lay aside some of the items on our Plan, to bring some forward, or to put some back. And completely new opportunities and ideas may spring up, along with the arrival among us of new people with new gifts. The hope in having a MAP, therefore, is not to be boxed-in, but to be constantly reminded not to sink into a rut. Alongside new initiatives (both those on the plan, and those which may arise spontaneously) , much of our already established work, of course, will carry on – including things begun under the impetus of the previous MAP among them . WE must go forward prayerfully with openness to what God is saying, and above all, in reliance on his help and guidance in carrying out what is, essentially, his mission in this place. Often we may feel unequal to the task, or people who seemed indispensable will have to withdraw from it. Then it will be important for us as a community to remember some words of the Lord given to St Paul, which are pinned up in the vestry at the moment – ‘my strength is made perfect in your weakness’. ‘
Finally, before I finish this letter, may I draw your attention to ‘Thy Kigdom Come’ , the 10 day ‘wave of prayer’ which our Archbishops started last year, and which has now become ecumenical and international. In this Team and village we are laying on multiple opportunities to go deeper into prayer, in a variety of different ways. Do pick up a Flyer from the church and come along, perhaps to something which will feel challenging or ‘different’ to you, but through which I am sure we can all grow as we seek to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
The full programme will also be on our website.
With my very best wishes and prayers for you all and for our joint discipleship together.