APCMs are a chance to look back – to report on the previous year – to look at the mission and activity of the parish throughout the previous 12 months. And what a 12 months it has been – a year unlike any of us remember.
The challenges have been unprecedented and at times unrelenting – we have had to respond and pivot – one of the words of the year – as the situation and circumstances changed rapidly. It has been a year of loss and we are all grieving for people and situations we have missed. We have learnt how to live stream, Zoom and broadcast on the radio. In the you can read about how we have responded to the challenge.
It is a year none of us would want to repeat. I hope and pray we are moving towards better times.
The APCM is also an opportunity to look forward – to attempt to encourage us to move forward into what God is calling us to.
Over the course of the year there has been a lot of change and perhaps each of us at times admit that we long for things to go back to where they were before. But the world has changed and I don’t think it would be right or possible for us to try to return to exactly as we were before. Research into crises has shown that after things settle down 80% of things stay the same whereas 20% change. Part of the role of those in leadership is to discern what the 80% and 20% are.
When I arrived in the parish just over 3 years ago one of the things that attracted me to the profile was a desire to reach out to new people. To see the church reach out and allow people to know the outrageous grace and love of God. In order to do this, Bishop Martin made it clear that there would have to be change. Now I know that change is challenging, and change for change sake is neither helpful or beneficial, but if we are to want to be more effective in declaring God’s love there are things we need to change.
We have worked hard to engage with our community – partnering with Basic life for the Pop Up Shop – started after school “Come and...” – built relationships with schools delivering assemblies and lessons — developed a website and increased our engagement on social media.
Over the last year we have developed our vision statement as a Parish that will help us to discern what the next steps should be.
In Old Felixstowe Parish we seek to: Live, show and tell the love of God, becoming like Christ and drawing others to Him.
In order to help us fulfil that calling there are some alterations planned to how we organise worship to help us reach more people. This means that there may well be compromises in what we have always had – but as the PCC have prayerfully discerned how we feel God is leading us we have been aware that our core purpose is to show God’s love to all.
This is why as we journey forward we will be planning to hold three services on a Sunday morning that will appeal to a range of people. It is not the desire or purpose that all people will find every service helpful in encouraging them to become more Christ-like.
I understand there are different styles of liturgy and music that appeal to different people.
The 8am BCP traditional communion service allows a space and time for people to connect with God using familiar language and liturgy.
The 9:30am informal service may be more appropriate to invite a family to and be similar to the online services of the last year (we aim to continue to livestream this service)
The 11am more formal service could well appeal to someone who likes a more liturgical style of worship.
Our intention to hold the same style service, at the same time, in the same location each week will make it easier to invite people – helping us to draw others to Christ.
The PCC have prayerfully considered and made these plans, at all times, keeping our mission at the forefront. The new pattern will be reviewed once it has been in place for six months when we will again ask the question whether we are fulfilling our core purpose to live, show and tell God’s love. Part of this process has involved the PCC working with the Diocesan Advisory Committee and applying for a faculty to develop the audio and visual facilities at St Peter and St Paul to enable us to reach to our community with the love of God.
We should be excited about where God is leading us – I pray that we will continue to keep seeking what God is calling us to do at this time – that we would be open to His voice as we seek to live out our calling, as His people, at this time!