VICAR’S REPORT to the Annual Parochial Church Council
22nd April 2018
1 John 3:16 says, ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’
How do we know what real love is? We know what real love is by understanding that Jesus Christ ransomed His life for us so that we might be set free. If His love really wins our hearts and brings us to repent and to trust our lives to Christ then we will be motivated to do the same as Christ and to lay our lives down and express that same love that Christ has for us, out to others. Christ’s love is a love that gives without counting the cost, He gives without any thought of return, He gives without first weighing up whether or not such love is deserved – His love is entirely without self-interest. And that love is the mark of a faith that is real. When
we love as He loves, it touches our bank accounts and our giving, it touches our diaries and governs the stewardship of our time our talents, our energy and our possessions. Love ‘always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’
When I read all the different reports contained in our Annual Parish Council Meeting (APCM) I can see that there is a golden thread that runs throughout all our ministries. The golden thread that unites us and spurs us on to dedicate our time and energy, our talents and passions is love. What makes up our church are people who have a passion for Jesus and
because of that are willing to lay down their lives for each other and for this community. We have people who know they have been touched by the love of Christ in their hearts and want to share that love out to others. The variety and scope of the ministries that are done are exceptional but even more than that the passion, dedication and love shown by so many people to see God’s Kingdom advance in Marple and beyond demonstrates the fire of Christ’s love alive in us. 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.
At this our APCM let us remind ourselves Why Church? – Our Vision Our Purpose
Everything we do at All Saints’ Marple is centred around three core purposes: We want all people to encounter Jesus; we want all people to follow Him in their daily lives and we want all people to have the confidence to share their lives of faith in Jesus with others. (Put simply: Up, In and Out) Our core purpose shapes our thinking, our praying and our expression of faith. So, whether we are praying for people on the streets doing HOTS, cleaning the toilets at CONNECT or serving teas on a Sunday our motivation is the same: We lay down our lives because we want people to encounter the amazing love of Jesus, be inspired to live like Him and share His good news with others. We share a high calling, we are Christ’s ambassadors to the world. We are not orphans left alone but sons and daughters of the living God called to live with His Spirit alive in us. It is my prayer that when people come into contact with us, they will see the amazing light of Christ and will want to know Jesus for themselves.
With this in mind it is important that we remind ourselves of our values:
We Value Growing Community
So much of what we do is about growing community both inside and outside the church. 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 build community. It is through these
communities that we want people to encounter God and follow Jesus and share something of the good news about Jesus. It is great to see us becoming more intentional in taking opportunities to share our faith.
Out to our community, we want to continue to show the very practical love of God. We do this
through our work at CONNECT and our aspiration is that anyone in Marple can experience the
hospitality of God and nobody in Marple need stand alone. Record numbers of food bags have
been given out at The Pantry, and there is other practical help that people access through the Way Ahead Job Club and HELP at CONNECT.
CONNECT continues to provide a different space for us as a church to be God’s presence for the Marple community. It is proving to be a place where new communities are growing and new opportunities to spread the good news about Jesus are happening. I can only thank Penny Saunders, Steve Corbett, Sheila Wenham, Joan Brown and others for their leadership and presence there.
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 to live out Christ-centred lives. Life Groups continue to be places where strong relationships are developed, where people are cared for, and are encouraged to explore how they can live boldly by faith.
Part of living life together is recognising that life can be hard. So I want to thank the prayer ministry team who at the end of every Sunday Service are willing to pray and seek God’s answers for people. This is as well as the Deeper Prayer team who offer more time to individuals for prayer. Celebrate Recovery has also been launched at CONNECT this year which is about seeking God’s help through his Holy Spirit to deal with life’s hurts.
Moreover, for those who need practical help, I am so thankful for the Meals for Mums team, Fix it Team, Bereavement team, Home Communion team and Moneywise team. I particularly want to thank Joan Brown for her pastoral leadership and oversight.
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 word of God, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and strong fellowship with each other. A lot of our teaching this year has centred around Christ being in us and that it is He who transforms us and enables us to be His light to the world. We long for the presence of God to influence our workplaces, our families our friends in all that we say and do.
It is so important to meet God through prayer and so this year thanks to Martin Makin and others we have looked at the prayer course and done two half nights of prayer.
The ALPHA course has again been a blessing and many of us experienced the new ALPHA
material. It has been wonderful to see people who have never known Jesus, come to know Him.
This year we seen changes to the staff team. I’d like to say a big thank you to Philip Alston who
stepped down from being our Children and Family Worker, and Craig Silcock as our Youth
worker who has moved on. Both contributed enormously to the life and work of All Saints’. We
have had new people join us: Martin Makin, Sarah Holton and Kate Zilstra have brought new life and ideas. Also, thanks to the generosity of the PCC, Lesley Currie who is now paid a quarter stipend (wage) is able to work full time as an Associate Minister here. (except school holidays) I am so thankful for the staff team, PCC, preaching and leading team, Worship Group Leaders, LifeGroup 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 than we even might dream.
Five years ago, God gave me a clear picture of water running out of All Saints’ down the hill and splashing people as it went. As each splash touched people, it was as though God was saying, ‘I will bless’. In Ezekiel 47 there is a picture of water running from the temple and the further away from the temple it gets the deeper the water until it becomes a river which brings healing and life to everything it comes into contact with. My hope looking ahead is that we see that river of God flow through Marple and beyond.
We as a parish are responsible for three churches: All Saints’, St Paul’s Strines and GLO. It has
been a joy and challenge to oversee these, but we need to continue to pray and encourage
strong envisioned leadership across all of our churches. Particular thanks to Keith Frost in his
pastoral oversight and preaching at Strines and to the officers there who do a great job. Also
massive thanks to Phil and Abbey Harris at GLO.
Looking Ahead, we have incredible opportunities but also challenges. One of the most significant challenges is how we continue to support the work of GLO and in particular finance the leadership of GLO as Phil Harris’ curacy comes to an end in 2019.
With the right resources, my hope is that we will be in a position to employ a youth worker by
September to replace Craig Silcock.
Money remains a challenge as we look to continue staffing our core ministries. I can only thank the people of All Saints’ for their generosity and ask that we continue to be generous in our planned giving. We are looking at new initiatives such as giving by text.
There is opportunity to renew our building and we hope that plans to upgrade the audio visuals of the church and modernise the kitchens and toilets will come to fruition this year. A massive thank you to Nev Phillips and the Capital Team Project who have worked behind the scenes planning improvements.
Our year ahead is full of opportunity. My prayer is that we will listen for where the Holy Spirit is directing, and that we continue to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
Every blessing in Christ,
Daniel Currie (Vicar)