The month of June begins with a celebration as we mark the Queen’s Jubilee and a time in which we can be thankful for her 70 years of service. I remember being outside Buckingham Palace for her 50th Jubilee celebrations and watching the gold carriage travel down The Mall. On that occasion Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II spoke of change as the constant factor during her reign and poignantly it is how we embrace change that defines us. The last 20 years have done nothing to diminish the truth of her statement, we continue to live in a time of change.
This summer marks a change in our Circuit, as we say farewell to Rev. Sue Swires along with her husband Will. Both have given us so much in the last 5 years and I know many of us will miss their ministry as they move to York and begin the next stage in their lives, with Sue as a Supernumerary Minister. Over the last 2 years I have valued their friendship, prayers, support, and enjoyed sharing in worship with them, I wish them God’s blessing as they move from here. In September we will be welcoming the Rev. Nick Thompson and his wife Pam as they move from the High Wycombe Circuit to join us. Nick will be taking a lead in Alderley Edge, Mobberley, Mottram and Snelson Churches and I will be taking a lead at Knutsford and Plumley. We are hoping to develop more of a team ministry in the Circuit, which itself is a change, and would like to utilise the gifts of individual ministers across the churches and to be more flexible. Rev Neal Stanton will be continuing the work in Northwich as he and the developing community at Zac’s seek to serve and minister to the people of Northwich. We will also be welcoming Rev. Rod Hill back for a further year, as a part-time Supernumerary Minister, Rod will be using his gifts across the Circuit; so we look to have a good team in place to enable and serve our churches.
Change, however impacts more than just our shape of ministry. The changes going on in our wider world are having an impact on our churches. The privatisation of belief, the move from people being part of a church to an individualistic spirituality, and the scepticism of institutions are key factors in the falling numbers of people engaging with the church. While those who are part of our churches have experienced the strength of fellowship, care and hope that sustains their own faith; for those who do not have that experience the church is often seen as out of date and irrelevant to their daily lives. We live in a changing society and it would be innocuous if the church remained the same as it did 20, 50 or 70 years ago. While part of the Church’s strength is its continuity with the past and faithfulness to the God, who is the same, yesterday, today and forever. It is also true that in our mission and worship we are called to reimagine the good news of Jesus for our time.
This is easy to say, but the implications are so much greater. We long for every church in our Circuit to be a growing church, and that will only happen if we are open to change. To be willing to take risks and to allow ourselves to let go of somethings we hold dear but are no longer needy for our mission here today. For instance, the rising energy prices are making some of our churches to reflect on whether they need a building at all. I can think of a couple of churches that moved out of their premises and moved into a village hall and community centre and in doing so found they connected with many more people. To top it all they no longer needed to spend time worrying about property, quinquennial inspections and pouring their giving into a building. This is not the universal remedy for our churches but we need to be asking the question how should we change to better serve our community and be the church that expresses God’s love for all.
In June we have our Mission Focussed Circuit Meeting. This year it will be at Mobberley Methodist Church, on Tuesday 14th June, 7.30pm – everyone in the Circuit is welcome to attend. We will be having a presentation from Zac’s Kingdom Community and thinking about how we can be a serving church that engages with its community? Please do come along, this is a work in progress.
I know that some people thrive on change, while others are left feeling alarmed, I believe the Holy Spirit is leading us forward and we have an opportunity to serve our communities and share God’s love with them in ways that can be relevant. God’s grace always goes before us.
With every blessing,