First of all, thank you to all who have responded to the document I sent about the new Deanery Plan. It would seem that of the people who have responded in terms of St Alban’s, several think it would make more sense for St Alban’s to be partnered with the Ventnor churches, as they are already engaged in some joint working, eg Messy Church ministry in Upper Ventnor; and there is historical precedent for them having been involved in other joint ventures in the past.
However, there are others who think differently about this, who would not want to see St Alban’s going in with Ventnor, and who suggest a different configuration, maybe including St Alban’s, All Saints’, Whitwell and St Lawrence.
All Saints’ is a different kind of church from St Alban’s as, with its rich heritage and history, and its picturesque village location, it is a magnet for visitors. We already have a significant ministry of pastoral care for the visitors who come into our church from across the world, and it is important that that work is maintained and built upon.
As I said last week in the document I circulated about this, we do not at this stage need to have detailed plans; but the Area Dean is trying to get a sense of the “direction of travel”, as she and the Deanery Council analyse the proposals from all the island churches. These will be considered by Deanery Council and then Deanery Synod, before being presented to the Bishop on Feb 22nd.
Our Gospel reading this Sunday, which tells us about Jesus’ call to Simon, Andrew, James and John, has something to say to us as we wrestle with the questions about our future as churches.
The positive response of these first disciples to Jesus’ call to follow him and help with the work of building the Kingdom continues to ring down the generations, via St Paul, whose Feast of Conversion we keep on Tuesday Jan 25th.
St Paul, having been actively persecuting Christians before his encounter with Christ brought about his conversion, subsequently worked tirelessly to spread the Good News of the Gospel.
Thanks to the missionary work of St Paul and those who have come after him, Christians have been called down the generations to assess what being a follower of Jesus really means; to ask why they are followers, and to question what this means in terms of their daily discipleship. In light of the current changes in the Deanery, it is pertinent for us to also ask what type of church does God want our churches to be; and how should we proclaim the Good News in our own day?
With my love and prayers,
The image above is a wall mosaic from the 6th century and is in the nave of the Church of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. Further information