Welcome to 2016!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 is a year of blessing and renewal for you.
My recent unavoidable absence from parish life has meant it has been necessary to rely on the wonderful resources of our Church Wardens and Staff Team in the past two months. I think it is worth saying right at the beginning of a New Year that we all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. They have done a remarkable job at keeping the show on the road during some unforeseen circumstances and, to return to find St Mary’s in such good shape (despite all the concern that there has naturally been) is a tremendous tribute in and of itself.
But where do we go from here? I thought it might be useful to write a little about where I would like to focus my energies in the next year and the way I’d like to go about doing that.
This isn’t an article explaining what happened in the last quarter of 2015. The Wardens and I are happy to talk and listen on an individual basis, but I think we all feel it best if we avoid too many more public statements. The lack of information has thrown up some rather elaborate speculation, I realise, but for the sake of a number of people, I hope you won’t rely on that! If you do have concerns that you wish to discuss confidentially, there is a diocesan authorised listeners’ scheme for your concerns. A separate article in this newsletter gives details. Please don’t hesitate to seek me out – or Debbie or Sue if you prefer – we want to try and help those who want to understand more if you would value it.
But here are three things I want to spend time doing in 2016 that will help us move forward after a very difficult three months:
- I want to spend more time with people: I love being Vicar of St Mary’s, but I think I’ve been too preoccupied with getting stuff done over the past four years and not enough time just being with you all, getting to know you and the like. I’d like to do more of that this year. Feel free to take the initiative if you would like – a coffee, a drink, a meal – all would be great. And if you find that I’m still a man in a hurry, then feel free to say so. I don’t mean to be brusque or offhand, I just need to slow down a bit. Taking time to be with you is the best way I can do that.
- Moorings: There is a real chance of completing the long-awaited Moorings Scheme this year. There are a small group of committed people working with me on this and we hope to present a formal Business Plan to the PCC very soon. The successful completion of this project will stabilise our financial position and set us on a sound footing for many years to come. This is the moment to pull out all the stops to get this done.
- Fun! Let’s have some fun together this year. We’ve already got the Panto and the Mardi Gras coming up. I hope we can come up with some other ideas to get people together simply to enjoy one another’s company.
One of the things I’ve had to learn in recent months is that I need to slow down and give people more time. Not everyone has found the pace of my ministry easy to cope with! So it’s been great to be encouraged to enter a new year with some simple words of advice about how to go about these things: calmly, warmly and gently. We do have a Mission Action Plan – and at some point we need to return to it – but right now, it’s more important that St Mary’s is an oasis of prayer, stillness and joy in God’s love than it is to be a Church in a hurry. In a busy city and with busy lives, we can all learn more about taking time to be with God and God’s people. That’s no bad lesson for us all for a New Year.
God bless you all.