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Reflection for July

The hard work in the garden still goes on, but we are getting there, with borders filling up, flowers coming into bloom, but we have lost some long-term shrubs, which have left some nasty gaps which need to be filled.  

The border issue of having gaps after losing those shrubs is quite pertinent to life in general. I am thinking of our church life and not so much about those who have died. When I arrive on Sunday mornings and see the cavernous gaps in our pews, I often feel quite sad and wonder how on earth we are going to fill those empty spaces. This applies particularly, when members have left either because they move away, or they retire, after many years of giving of their time and energies.  Hopefully the gaps will be filled by people stepping up to the mark, but quite often we do not seem to have the resources to do this, as a lot of people are doing a lot of things already and cannot take on any more.

I have spoken to many clergy and ministers about falling numbers and most agree that it is a common problem, with exceptions of course. Speaking to a worship leader he spoke about the church he belongs to, which is not a million miles away from Hanham, which has an average attendance of 200, including lots of young families and children. To achieve this there had to be huge changes not only in worship but in attitudes.

We in Hanham will be seeing changes in terms of a new Team Rector, Rev Beverley Charles being licensed this month and early next year a new Team Vicar for Hanham.  The advert for this person will be going out in September. One thing is for sure we cannot go on as we are, and we must be prepared for change, if we are to attract new people and grow. This may mean changes to our style of worship, more outreach to our community, more working collaborately with our Kingswood churches, perhaps having a central office to co-ordinate rotas, baptisms, weddings, funerals. A willingness to perhaps see some changes to our internal fabric of our building to offer a different type of sacred space. Different times of services led by a new team of ministers across the benefice.

 I do stress however these are my thoughts alone and in no way reflect the thinking of other clergy. The bottom line is however we need to change, that is not to say we must ditch all our traditions as there is room for new and old, bearing in mind we do have two churches.

For many people including myself, change can be difficult but having worked on a “Change Management Team” with the Employment Service, as we merged to become the DWP, it was essential that all staff and customers were kept in the loop and understood why change was necessary and essential for the merger to be effective and how these changes were to be implemented, thus allaying any fears or suspicions.   

What is required now is to pray for God’s will for our churches, as we enter this new exiting phase of Kingdom Building in Hanham, thus bringing glory to his name. As I have said many times before, it’s not what we want but what God wants.

Rev John