Living in the light of heaven touching earth.
What does it mean to be church in Kirkby?
What should the church look like and its people be like?
What is the Christian difference we aspire to live out?
These are questions that members of our churches are working through at the moment. At a joint church gathering on 23rd May it was decided to set up three small groups to think through what are our prophetic, spiritual and fellowship challenges.
This discussion has been running for some months now and has been set out for the churches in writing:
The story so far
There are many ways in which our churches have continued to break new ground in the Diocese and wider church. Established as the first formal Team Ministry we now represent a good example for others to follow of co-operation, joined up thinking between different congregations, diverse patterns of worship, a variety of expressions of church and a vision for whole-town mission. We should be proud of the variety of things we have nurtured:
- Four district churches in each corner of Kirkby
- A single joint church council
- A varied evening worship programme
- Fresh expressions of church such as After School Church and Café Church
- Kids Clubs, Cool School and Junior Church
- Bereavement Support and Healing Teams
- Nurture courses such as Questions of Faith
- Discipleship Development such as Foundations of Faith, Home Groups and Bible Studies
- A staff team that shares work and uses each other’s gifts across the parish
- A single point of contact for church bookings
- A vibrant web site and good IT
- Community cafes, lunch clubs and TANGO
- and more ….
It is now timely to ask the question: “What is the quality of Christian life that underlies all this?”
Betws-y-Coed – Being Church
About thirty church members, mainly from the PCC, spent a weekend at Betws-y-Coed in November 2010. They considered what it means to BE church and not just what it means to DO church. This was a way of taking this question on.
Two commitments came out of that weekend:
- To improve communications
- To hold a Parish Conference in 2011
Trafford Centre September 2011 – God’s Love For Kirkby
The Parish Conference took place ten months later. Christel has summarized it for us:
1. We began by looking at our town. ‘Our Kirkby’ and asking ourselves what we thought of it.
This is what we felt ‘Our Kirkby’ was like:
- Good community Spirit
- School problems
- Town centre a bit of a mess
- Fixed attitudes a problem
- Underlying poverty
- Family Issues
- Limited horizon for young people
- Sense of fear in older generation
- A predominately Catholic community
- St Chad’s seen as the ‘main’ church
- Church only there for weddings/funerals/baptisms
- Only one church is open all day
- If church is threatened people would rally round
2. We then asked ourselves “What does God feel about Kirkby”
We felt that God……..
- Loves Kirkby
- Sees our potential
- Feels our frustration
- Wants to guide us
- Is exited about Kirkby
- Feels our pain
- Is saddened by what he sees
- Thinks Kirkby is important
- Thinks we have a part to play
- Feels that that no one listens to him
- Feels hurt by us
- Feels ignored and let down
3. We then looked at how we could possibly respond to God’s feelings about the church and Kirkby and how we could best communicate God’s feelings towards Kirkby to the people of the town.
This was what we came up with:
- LOVE EACH OTHER!!!!!
- We need to set a good example:
- Don’t judge
- The church should MOVE OUT into the community (use our homes etc)
- Visit people in their homes (not just the clergy)
- More schools work
- Come together as ONE church to pray together
- Provide something for men
- We should stop thinking as individual district churches and think as ONE church.
- Improved communication and marketing of what we do.
- Provide a clear message about the church and maybe provide a personal face to the church.
- Use shops etc to hold surgeries
4. At the end of the day we asked for names of people who were willing to be part of a group who would work at trying to deliver some of the things mentioned above. The names were as follows:
Vicky Collins, Irene Turton, David Moran, Jill Ridgeway, Dave Ridgeway, Jean Williams, Claire Digney, Tim Stratford, Sharon Lee, Abigail Lee, Edie Riding, Barbara Humphreys, Sean Lee, Louise Currie, Pam Cummins, Vic Davies.This group then met on 10th October at St Mark’s to decide on a way forward.
Advent 2011 – Heaven Touching Our World
The 2011 parish-wide Advent Groups followed up on this. It was felt that the aspirations in the 3rd session of the Parish Conference were the beginning of our Vision and Values and were drawn from our experience of being church here. In the Advent Groups we drew on the wider tradition and experience of the world-wide church.
Using the tradition of the Advent Wreath we reflected on how Christian people down the ages have experienced heaven touching our world. The idea of ‘heaven touching our world’ may itself represent what BEING church is about. There are five Advent candles in the wreath. We dwelt on four of them together:
These represent increasingly strong illustrations of how heaven touches our world.
The strongest of all is represented by the fifth candle: Jesus’ birth; God with us; heaven in our midst. This we celebrated separately in each of our churches at Christmas.
Lent 2012 – Saints in Community
In Lent we continued the pattern of drawing on the wealth of the wider church to broaden our own vision of what it means to BE church. We did this by looking at how a range of saintly and leading Christian figures have inspired the church into Godly ways:
- Aidan and Hilda
- George McLeod (Iona)
- Brother Roger (Taize)
Have we reached a stage where we can begin to pull some strands together?
What are the distinctive features we want to inspire our churches to strive for?
What is the Christian Difference that we hope will distinguish every Christian person being formed by our church fellowships?
How can we best share our vision?
23 May 2012