Firstly, it was such a joy to welcome many of you back into All Saints’ last Sunday, for the first time since lockdown began.
Although we had to make a few changes to the way we normally do things, I am grateful for all the work which has been done on cleaning and signage which made it possible for us to come together as a worshipping community once more; and it was lovely to see familiar faces once again.
We were, of course, conscious of those of you who could not be with us, but we did remember you in our prayers so you were with us in spirit.
It is very good news that St Alban’s will have their first mass since lockdown on Sunday August 9th at 9.30, and we are fortunate that Fr Gregory will be presiding and preaching for us on that day. He will then go to All Saints’ to preside and preach at the 11.00 mass there.
As I have said in other pastoral letters, we intend to start by having worship on 2 Sundays per month at All Saints’ (second and fourth Sundays of the month) initially. It may become possible to increase this as we go into the autumn, but we will have to see how we go.
At St Alban’s the plan is to have worship on second and fourth Sundays, too, but the details are still being worked out as to what form this will take.
Secondly, at Deanery Synod on Tuesday evening, we were told that we are at a crossroads in ministry on the island at the moment, as we face a huge financial shortfall. We were told that most parishes are in a decline in numbers, that giving does not cover the cost of ministry on the island, and that Covid has merely brought forward the need to address these issues seriously and urgently. The Area Dean said it is important that we take the right road at this point, and stressed that everyone has a role to play in helping to decide what that road should be.
To get us started, the Archdeacon posed two questions for us to consider in small groups as part of the Zoom Synod meeting, and he asked us to then relay them to our parishes for consideration and to stimulate discussion.
The questions were:
1) Is our parish sustainable? If not, what changes do we need to make?
2) What needs to be present for mission and growth on our island to be achieved?
I ask you all to think carefully and prayerfully about these questions and to come up with suggestions which can be fed back via the Area Dean for consideration by the Deanery Council.
The Archdeacon said he wanted our “take-away” from the meeting to be that we have his permission to be bold, creative and risk-taking in order to find ways to extend God’s Kingdom on the island.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts in response to these questions and hope we can arrange an informal gathering of PCC members early in September to discuss them.
These are challenging times for all the churches on the island and there are no easy answers. It is important that we try to come up with some ideas, though, in order that we can have some say in what lies ahead for our churches and, hopefully, to avoid having things imposed on us.
With my love and prayers,
Feeding the Multitude by an unknown author dated between 980 and 993 Creative Commons CC0 License