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Renewing the Vision of The Parish

Friday 18th October, 2013 @ 11:32 am

by Reverend Christopher Harrison | tags: ,

Christopher Harrison considers what the future could hold for our parish and its three churches

At recent meetings of the Parochial Church Council (PCC), there have been discussions about the need for us to give renewed thought to how we can be most effective in our ministry and mission to the city. I have therefore set the ball rolling by preparing this rough list of possible areas of work which we might undertake in the near future. The list is rooted in some basic principles which have been drawn up by the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, as well as our own parish vision statement which appears in our magazine Nottingham in Faith.

The suggestions are designed to be discussed at church congregation meetings this autumn, as well as at meetings of the three church committees. Please do take some time to read this, and be ready to make comments either at the congregational meetings, or directly to clergy or churchwardens. As it is a working document at present, I expect that we may add or delete items, and we may even decide that some more fundamental changes to the overall approach of the document should be made. We will also need to consider the time period over which the various suggestions, if agreed, should be worked upon.

I must stress that nothing is set in stone – your ideas are important and valuable. This is simply a starting point, arising from my own experience of what I think we need and might achieve. I expect that the PCC will discuss the results of the various discussions at a meeting early in 2014, and I hope that we will be able to present a fuller version of this paper, which has been agreed by the PCC, to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting in April 2014, alongside the Annual Report.

1. Basic principles
Diocesan Vision

All that we do as a parish should take place under the guidance and inspiration of the Diocesan Vision, which encourages all parishes to ‘join together in the transforming mission of God’, and to aspire towards

• Living worship

• Growing disciples

• Seeking justice

Parish vision
Alongside this, the following statement, from the parish magazine, is a good summary of the ethos of the parish:
‘Our parish aims to:

• live and proclaim the Gospel for the 21st century in our modern, challenging and fast developing city

• develop ministry together in the city in a way that makes clear that all people are valued within the thought of God, and loved by God

• speak out together, wherever possible, on matters of justice and injustice, of inclusion and exclusion, of rights and responsibilities, of integrity and transparency

2. Suggested aims and objectives
Arising out of this vision, the following the overarching aims and objectives are suggested:

i. To build and strengthen the congregations of the three churches;

ii. To encourage co-operation and mutual support between the churches, recognising and affirming the distinctiveness of alongside the unity of the parish as a whole;

iii. To ensure that at all times church members value and care for one another, recognising the contribution made by all;

iv. To review worship patterns with the aim of ensuring that these are as effective as possible in terms of enabling church members to worship God effectively while also offering diversity and accessibility to newcomers;

v. To consider what ‘discipleship’ means, probably looking at a broad interpretation which recognises a range of approaches to God and spirituality, and to ensure that our parish is as effective as possible in helping all concerned to grow and deepen in faith;

vi. To review and improve our outreach into the community;

vii. To improve the ways in which the parish works on issues of social justice etc;

viii. To make best use of the three church buildings in terms of their contribution to the life and community
activity of the city, consistent with our overall vision and priorities; ix. To consider ways of improving ecumenical collaboration (with other churches)

x. To aim for and achieve a balanced financial budget over a defined period of time

3. Suggested aims for the three churches and for particular areas of ministry, arising out of current and planned work

All Saints’

• The congregation is warm, welcoming and committed, not large but of a good size for maintaining and strengthening mutually supportive relationships. Pressures on many individual members prevent more active involvement, however. Can we encourage a deepening of supportive relationships between church members, and draw newcomers into church life?

• Exploration of alternative forms of music and worship, such as the Sounds and Songs of the Spirit evening; more modern music at occasional evening events?

• 150th anniversary celebrations in 2014 will include a Festival Eucharist on All Saints’ Day. Should we also plan another church and community event?

• Can we improve the church interior: upgrading the entrance lobbies. Painting the lower ceilings between the rafters, perhaps with grant aid to restore them to their previous decorated condition?

• Plans to repair the organ are underway; can we make better use of it for concerts and other musical events?

• Should we aim for upgrading the kitchen and WC facilities?

• Discussions with architect regarding any other possibilities for improving the facilities at the church

• Garden and churchyard – what is the present position regarding local partnerships, including possible help from the YWCA

• In order to build the congregation, it is possible to develop work with families and children? Use of All Saints Hall? Appointment of a children/family worker – would need some external funding, probably.

• What should we do if the church just continues as at present, or if the congregation dwindles rather than increases?

St Mary’s

• Prioritise the drawing up of a policy for the use of the church by outside groups

• Experiment with new configurationsfor the Eucharist, in particular with the first part of the service being led from in front of the screen

• Resume the work of the St Mary’s arts committee and develop the church as a venue for exhibitions

• ‘Beautifying St Mary’s’ – work on the aesthetic aspects of the church

• A conference on current social issues? – and additional ways of developing the use of the church for our own events

• Music – any plans for developing the programme of concerts and special services, including a greater diversity of forms of music (as is happening already through outside bookings)?

• continue to develop the children’s ministry

• Friends of St Mary’s – increase profile and membership?

• Could we host a Passion Play or Mystery Play? Or commission a more modern dramatic approach to faith and spirituality? or develop other links with local theatre groups, such as the youth drama group Television Workshop

• A series of guest preachers for evensong?

• An annual Christmas Tree Festival, beginning this year

St Peter’s

• Review of work with homeless and rough sleepers, and the Gateway Dropin for those with mental health problems– is our work adequate?

• Review of entrance lobby – make it brighter and more welcoming?

• Evening services – under some review, with trial of a 5.00 pm starting time between autumn and spring

• City debates – what place might there be for them in future?

• Further development of work with children?

• Music – increase choir numbers, closer links with Nottingham University, more ‘Coffee Break’ concerts each year, continuation of choir trips, establishment of a Junior Choir (ages 8-13), greater use of external tutors and coaches; possibility of a schools singing ‘outreach’ project (like the DioSing network in Leicester Diocese)

• Sustain and develop the programme of weekday services, ensuring that they are seen as an integral part of the life of the church

• Experiment with some very different contemporary Christian music, drawing on the skills of some church members

Workplace Chaplaincy

• There has been an excellent development of the network of lay chaplains, and an increase in the range and number of organisations where a chaplaincy presence has been established.

Next steps?

• Can it be better integrated into the life of the congregations?

• Can we respond better to the needs of those who are searching for meaning and purpose in life and work, whom we encounter through the chaplaincy?

• Funding for the future? A full time post??

The Parish Centre

• Setting up, if possible, a bookstall alongside the Traidcraft shop

• Coffee room – any further improvements?

Overseas Committee

• Plans for raising awareness of the work of the committee and attracting more members

• Plans to announce projects for which money will be raised during the coming year, rather than raise money first then allocate it afterwards


• Plans for another full stewardship campaign in 2014


• Plans are underway to rebuild the parish website, so that it is more in keeping with present needs and can be more easily managed. CH to take a more active role in content.

4. Staffing constraints and opportunities

• Need to review clergy roles with the departure of Rev Stephen Morris

• Need to consider the possibility of new posts, such as a ‘City Theologian’, a Children and Families minister, or a Church Army officer, if our allocation of clergy is reduced as we approach 2020

• Should we apply to have a curate appointed to the parish?

• Readers – encouragement of more people to come forward for reader training

5. Conclusions and summary of main proposals

• to follow, after discussions by congregational meetings, church committees and PCC

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