(taken from the APCM Vicar’s Report)
I cannot help being so proud of our church when reading the reports for our Annual Parish Council Meeting (APCM). The variety and scope of the ministries that we do are exceptional but even more than that is the passion, dedication and love shown by so many people in our church to see God’s Kingdom advance in Marple and beyond. John says in his gospel ‘Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.’ Well, you truly are a remarkable bunch of people whose love of our Lord and love of each other is shown in so many significant ways to so many people that I can only rejoice that I have the privilege of being vicar here.
Why Church? – Our Vision Our Purpose
There is a verse from the Bible that hangs in my office: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives. This verse reminds US of our purpose … for the Lord has anointed US to bring good news to the poor. He has sent US to comfort the broken-hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives.
Everything we do at All Saints’ Marple, whether it be Sunday Worship, Healing on the Streets, Little Ark or one of the many other activities we do, is more and more centred around a core purpose: We want to give ALL people the opportunity to encounter Jesus and we want to encourage ALL people to follow Jesus in our daily lives. It is His anointing presence in our lives that brings transformation not only to ourselves but also our community. Our core purpose needs to be at the heart of every activity we do and needs to shape our thinking, our praying and our expression of faith. Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations baptising them and teaching them with the assurance that Jesus is with us always. Throughout this year my hope has been, and continues to be into the coming year, that we will see many more people of all ages and from all walks of life coming to our church because they have encountered the living, loving presence of Jesus and want to follow Him!
With this in mind it is important that we continue focusing on our essential values:
We Value Growing Community
Reading the many reports and experiencing first hand some of the groups and activities, I continue to remain thankful to God that we are a church who not only builds community but reaches out to make links into the Marple community. The communities that we have responsibility for such as PlayAway, Playtime, Evergreens, Little Ark, Who Let the Dad’s Out and the various walking groups have gone from strength to strength. These are strong vibrant groups which build community and have the potential to enable people to encounter God and follow Jesus. Likewise we continue to show the very practical love of God to our community by giving out food bags at The Pantry, offering advice to people at The Job Club, and offering prayer and healing at HOTS and other forms of prayer ministry. This is as well as being involved in the Marple Business Forum and offering Chaplaincy to the shops on Market Street. In all of this we show that we are a church who care for our community and want to help people encounter and follow a God of love.
CONNECT has provided a different space for us as a church to be a presence for people. Anyone who has spent time at CONNECT knows it is a place where people can experience the hospitality of God. It is, if you like, God’s living room. Whether people go to have a brew, hang out, do some art or receive a listening ear or prayer, CONNECT is proving to be a place where new relationships are forming and new opportunities to spread the good news about Jesus are happening. I can only thank Chris McComiskey, Penny Saunders and others for their leadership here.
We Value Living Life
One of the key ways in which we encourage people to share or ‘live life’ together is through Life Groups. I myself have been encouraged enormously in my faith and fellowship by being part of a vibrant Life Group. Life Groups continue to be a significant place that people find the support, encouragement and place of belonging that they need to live out Christ-centred lives. My hope is that Life Groups continue to remain places where strong relationships are developed, and people are encouraged to explore how they can live boldly by faith. We also recognise that life can be hard and we want to share the good news of God’s love to people in ALL circumstances. So we continue to offer prayer ministry at the end of Sunday Services as well as Pastoral Prayer for people who want to pray more deeply into something. Moreover we look to come alongside people who are in difficult circumstances or need practical help and I am so thankful for the Meals for Mums team, Fix it Team and Bereavement team as well as the Home Communion team. I particularly want to thank Joan Brown for her pastoral leadership and oversight.
Living Life together is also about serving each other. I was recently encouraged by the youth who decided that they wanted to do something that they called ‘Serve Sunday’ where they helped serve the church in all the different ways that go on behind the scenes every Sunday. They gave us an important reminder that church is not something we consume but instead somewhere we can serve each other. I think God loves it when we all get involved in building His Kingdom.
Our primary purpose in all that we do is to connect with the presence of God. This is why in our Sunday worship we want to provide people with opportunity to encounter God through our sung worship, Bible teaching and prayer ministry. We depend on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and want to consciously welcome Him to move in our lives and allow Him to transform us. We long for the presence of God to influence our workplaces, our families our friends and all that we say and do.
The ALPHA course has again been a blessing to us and it has been wonderful to see people who have never known Jesus come to know Him.
I am also thankful for the extra effort that David Waterston put in to make the Easter Reflections a meaningful space to give us opportunity to reflect on the Stations of the Cross.
There are some key people who will be stepping down from significant ministry areas. If you have read Phil Alston’s report you will know that he has felt that it is time for him to step down from being the children and family worker for the church next October. I can only thank Phil for all he has brought to this role and how he has blessed the lives of so many young people and their families in our community. He will be sorely missed. Please pray as we look to find someone to continue leading this vital area of our ministry. Nev Phillips is also to step down as warden of our church. Nev has been an amazing church warden who, with Gill, has worked incredibly hard for the good of All Saints’. He has shown incredibly effective and diligent leadership which has been such a blessing.
Looking ahead, we also have incredible opportunities but also challenges. Money remains a challenge as we look to continue staffing our core ministries. We have had to use part of our savings, about £25,000, to fund staffing this year which is a situation that can’t go on forever. I can only thank the people of All Saints’ for their generosity and ask that we continue to be so.
The Bible says: ‘I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.’
Our year ahead is full of opportunity. And my prayer is that we as God’s people will become more rooted and established in God’s love and that out of this love He will lead us to do immeasurably more than even our own imaginations can grasp. This actually might mean that we slow down a bit to make sure we are spending time rooted in the Lord’s presence, listening for His voice and doing what He is directing.
We have been left a very generous legacy from Barry Kinder which the PCC are working hard to spend effectively. We are working hard to make sure that we use this money wisely and we already have plans to modernise kitchens and toilets as well as the audio visuals in our church, again so that all people can have the opportunity to encounter and follow Jesus.
Having taken on Craig Silcock as a full time youth worker I am thrilled to see how God has been using him to expand both the scope and outreach of the youth ministry.
It has also been a privilege and a pleasure to oversee Phil and Abby Harris in their new role as leaders of GLO.
I am so thankful for the Staff Team, Preaching Team, Life Group Leaders and many others who exercise Godly leadership in this church and I am confident that God will continue to envision us to do immeasurably more for His glory.
With every blessing in Christ,
Daniel Currie (Vicar)