This time of year gives us a time to reflect on the happenings of last year and focus on our hopes for this coming year. A lot has happened in 2016. For the church in Marple it has been a time of change and transition. It is pertinent to remember that it was only this time last year that we said goodbye to Ian and Nadine Parkinson (our previous vicar and his wife) and only from last March that I officially have had the privilege of leading All Saints’ Church with all the blessings, excitement and challenges that this new role as vicar brings. Time flies when you are having fun!
Last November the All Saints’ Staff Team participated in something called “Lead Academy” which was organized by, and part funded by, Chester Diocese for the leadership teams of big churches across the Chester Diocese area. In one of the sessions they challenged us by asking us to define WHY we do church. There were a variety of responses from the participants on the course and it is a question that I would like us all to consider:
- WHY do we do church?
- What is the purpose of church?
It is fascinating that one person’s reason for “doing” church may be very different from someone else’s. After much deliberating the staff team were challenged to define our WHY in one sentence.
We made a start by saying the following, “The reason we are church is to ENCOUNTER JESUS and encourage people to FOLLOW JESUS with their whole lives.” Do you agree? I would love to hear your opinion.
Knowing our WHY can inspire and focus us. Knowing our WHY is essential to encourage unity and to walk forward purposefully together. Understanding our WHY helps us in our decision making and helps us to make the most of every opportunity and so, as part of our WHY, can I ask you to reflect and act on those four words: ENCOUNTER JESUS, FOLLOW JESUS.
I speak of opportunity because this year we have been given a truly wonderful opportunity to improve our church building. In July of last year I was privileged to be able to take the funeral of Barry Kinder. Barry and his wife, when she was alive, had both been long-standing members of All Saints’ Church and it was towards the end of the year that it was confirmed that Barry had generously left the substantial sum of £250,000 to the church with the express wish that this be used for “effecting improvements and repairs to, and providing for the upkeep and maintenance of, ALL SAINTS’ Church, its outbuildings and grounds, including gravestones.” Due to Barry’s amazing generosity we have the opportunity to improve the environment of the church and its surround. Already the PCC (Church Council) have started to consider how best to use this generous gift. For a long time we have had the intention to improve our kitchens and toilets as well as the audio visuals in the church. As decisions are made it will be essential that we keep our WHY in mind and prayerfully ask God for wisdom and discernment to be good stewards of what we have been given.
As we look forward to 2017 we can be heartened by the opportunity to improve our building and environment however, I don’t want to give you the impression that we are a financially rich church. All that we receive we invest in ministry because we are passionate about enabling all people, inside and outside of church, young and old, to have the opportunity to encounter Jesus and follow Him. As a church, we need to be prayerful and faithful for the resources needed to support this. This year the PCC have taken the brave decision to use approximately £25,000 of the church’s savings to support the ministry of our church. This is obviously not sustainable in the long term but we are confident that with the generous offering of God’s people*, God will provide all we need for His will and purpose to be done.
For Barry to leave such a substantial gift to us, I would like to think that Barry understood the importance and purpose of our church. As we look forward to 2017 I pray that you will encounter Jesus mightily and follow Him wholeheartedly and that this will lead to the enrichment of Christ’s body, the Church and the transformation in the lives of those around us and in our communities.
With every Blessing in Christ,
Daniel Currie (Vicar of All Saints Marple)
*If you would like to give regularly by Standing Order then please pick up a form from the noticeboard in the link corridor between Church and the Hall