VICAR’S REPORT TO THE ANNUAL PAROCHIAL CHURCH MEETING 2019
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
As Jesus is about to leave His disciples and ascend into heaven after His resurrection, these are the words that He left them with. It is called The Great Commission. These words from Jesus contain our modus operandi; the reason for our existence as Christ’s church. We are all called to go and make disciples of all nations, we are called to baptize, and we are called to teach and share and obey everything that Jesus commanded.
In the last year how have we done that? How have we gone out and shown our community the Good News of Jesus? How have we come alongside people and shown them what we know about our wonderful loving God? How have we helped others to encounter our living God through His wonderful son Jesus and by His Holy Spirit?
As we read through the pages of our APCM I can only marvel at all the different things we do and how each bit of what we do brings Christ’s Great Commission just that one step nearer to being achieved. The thing that unites our activity is a desire to see people come in some way into the presence of God and experience meeting our most amazing Saviour and His most incredible love for us. It is obvious that we have a passion, a love, and a desire to share with others, both inside and outside the church all that we have in Jesus. The word “church” means community. The variety and scope of the ministries that are done in and through our community are exceptional as is the passion, dedication and love shown by so many people to see God’s Kingdom advance in Marple and beyond. You truly are a remarkable bunch of people. Your love of the 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 in 3 words: Up, In and Out)
Our core purposes shape our thinking, our praying and our expression of faith. So, whether we are praying for people on the streets doing H.O.T.S., cleaning the church to get it ready for Sunday or serving someone a brew at Connect, our motivation is the same. We give our lives to God and His purposes. We understand that we are Christ’s ambassadors to the world. We are sons and daughters of the living God and we carry His light into every conversation and every situation we find ourselves in. It is my prayer that, when people come into contact with us, they will see the amazing light of Christ in us and will want to know Jesus for themselves. With this in mind it is important that we remind ourselves of our values:
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 God’s great big story of salvation and we have wanted to give an understanding of the overarching story of salvation that runs through the whole Bible as well as a focus on Jesus’ life as seen through Matthew’s Gospel.
This year we have launched a rather different evening service called “ENGAGE” to enable everyone to encounter, follow and share Jesus in a creative, fun and interactive way – where stories are shared, and God gets the glory
It has been a joy to see people meet with Jesus on the ALPHA Course and this year we have really seen significant breakthrough for some as they discover faith in Jesus.
It has also been wonderful to see how people have engaged corporately and individually with prayer. Our “Hundred Days of Prayer” and “Dawn Raid Prayer Vigils” have been wonderful times of engagement as has our fortnightly “Listening Hour” in the Prayer Room at CONNECT.
One of the key ways in which we encourage people to “live life” together is through LifeGroups. I myself have been encouraged enormously in my faith and fellowship by being part of a vibrant LifeGroup. LifeGroups are vital for people to live Christ centred lives. They continue to be places where strong relationships are developed, where people are cared for, and where we are encouraged to explore how we 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, as well as the Pastoral Prayer Team, who offer more time to individuals for prayer. I also want to thank Gordon and Denny Haynes for their dedicated leadership of “Celebrate Recovery” which has had a significant impact on people’s lives.
Furthermore, I am so thankful for the Meals for Mums Team, Fix-it Team, Bereavement Team and Home Communion Team for all their dedicated support of our community.
So much of what we do is about growing community; both inside and outside the church. It has been a joy to see how the kids’ communities such as PlayAway, Playtime@CONNECT, Little Ark and Who Let the Dad’s Out have grown this year. We regularly come into contact with over 100+ children a week! I want to thank Sarah Holton and her dedicated team for all their hard work, love and support.
The work of CONNECT continues to provide a space and an opportunity for people to connect with God and with community and I am encouraged to see how CONNECT continues to be a practical place of support with The Pantry, Job Club, CONNECT-Help and CAP all being offered. I can only thank Penny Saunders, Steve Corbett, Sheila Wenham, Joan Brown, Iain Kirkpatrick and others for their leadership and presence there.
Staff Team, PCC and Leadership across the Parish
I would like to personally thank all the members of the staff team. They are an amazing group of people to work with. Last September, we appointed Dave Hill to become the All Saints’ Youth Worker and he has been a great addition to the team. Lesley, in addition to her role as Associate Minister here, has been appointed as Rural Dean for the Chadkirk Deanery.
I want to thank Kate Zijlstra, Hej Alston and Karen Bluff who in particular took on extra duties to cover whilst David Waterston was on sabbatical.
The opportunity to renew our building continues and I would like to thank both staff team and members of the PCC who have continued to work for the development of the building. We are so thankful for the upgrade to the kitchen and we are very close for work to start on the visuals of the church. In particular a big thank you needs to go out to the Capital Projects Team, Kate Zijlstra, Nev Phillips, Peter Greenwood, David Waterston and Hej Alston, for their continued hard work to see these plans come to fruition.
A special thanks needs to go to Keith Frost who, last September, was installed as Reader-inCharge of St Paul’s, Strines, and who, in partnership with myself, has become responsible for the pastoral and spiritual oversight of that faith community.
Also, a special thank you needs to go to Gill Hale who is stepping down as Church Warden. Gill has been a wonderful member of the Staff Team and has worked so humbly, diligently and effectively. She is one of those who I can only describe as an unsung hero for all her work behind the scenes. A warden’s term is usually six years but Gill has done nine! It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you Gill!
I am so thankful for the Staff Team, the PCC, Preaching and Leading Team, Worship Group Leaders, LifeGroup leaders, and many others who exercise Godly leadership in this church. I pray that God will continue to be bless and envision us to do immeasurably more for His glory than we even might dream.
This coming year we want to take more seriously Christ’s commission to go and make disciples of all nations. We are able to meet lots of different people through our various community groups but we long to give them opportunity to take steps towards following Christ for themselves. We therefore see it as important to continue to run ALPHA Courses, and also this coming term we want to consider what it means to be living as a disciple here at All Saints’. We will be focusing on this in our first sermon series. Over the coming couple of years, we want to develop teaching and groups that will help all of us become mature followers of Christ.
In the parish this year we have absorbed the geographical area of our church plant GLO. Our challenge ahead is to continue to resource the mission and ministry of our three centres of worship at All Saints’, St Paul’s and GLO.
As Phil Harris’ curacy comes to an end in 2019, we will employ Phil as Associate Vicar to take on the leadership of GLO in the short term. The challenge for us in the coming year will be to raise up new, sustainable leadership for GLO in the future.
Money continues to be 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 in the coming year.
Our year ahead is full of opportunity. Jeb Beatty, our new Curate will be ordained on 30th June 2019 and will be joining us from the 1st of July. I myself will be away on holiday and Sabbatical from the 2nd week in July to the beginning of November and Lesley, along with the Staff Team, will continue leadership during that time. Please do continue to hold all of us in your prayers. My prayer is that we will continue to 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,