Growing Together with God is our new ‘strapline’ at St Mary’s. At the end of our long Mission Action Process, about which you will have all by now either heard or read, this was the simple, memorable phrase which has come to summarise what St Mary’s is about.
Churches are rich and diverse communities and people belong to St Mary’s for many different reasons. Yet as we’ve thought about what St Mary’s stands for and as the Church Council has spent a lot of time trying to plan a vision and strategy for the next five years, Growing Together with God neatly sums up much of our work in encouraging one another to live as faithful disciples in the world, tending one another in our moments of need and support, building up a sense of commitment to the common good in our community and beyond and resourcing all of that in terms of getting people involved, using our gifts and talents and funding our work. You will be hearing a lot more about this in the months and years ahead!
But in this article, I just want to highlight the strapline, which is deliberately and conveniently ambiguous. On the one hand, we seek to grow closer to and deeper in our relationship with God. This is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. Being in a living and vital relationship with God offers us the joy, peace and challenge of knowing God and making God known in the world. In the baptism service we remind godparents of the challenging calling of helping the newly-baptised child to grow in faith by “prayer, example and teaching”. We pray for the grace of God to help them in this responsibility. For each of us Growing Together with God is an invitation to take the next steps on our own faith journeys in the years ahead. You might like to think what you might be called to become or do in the coming years to know God and make God known in a more significant way.
But on the other hand, part of growing closer to God is growing closer to our fellow-Christians. When we grow closer to God we become more open to those around us, to our need for their support and help and their need for ours. So Growing Together with God invites us to find ways of strengthening the bonds of community and fellowship among us, because this is one of the ways those who join our church (as well as those who already belong!) can discover the love of God for themselves.
So Growing Together with God will appear on our noticeboards, our website, our literature and in many other ways. The challenge for all of us at St Mary’s is for us to demonstrate in our own lives and the life of the church, that we are living by our new motto and that others see it when they meet us.
Canon Simon Butler