Tuesday, 1 June 1999

This Church is becoming a community of people who …

To complete the sentence was the task set by our course leaders for myself and 11 other Vicars who had moved jobs in the last 12 months.
We were in the idyllic location of Wydale Hall, the York Diocesan Retreat Centre (just north of the Pickering to Scarborough road).  Despite the forecast the weather was fabulous, the view over a wooded valley majestic, and after a very pleasant lunch the cooing birds and gently droning bees seemed to suggest that a quite doze on the terrace for a few hours was much more sensible than getting our minds into gear and thinking about congregations back home, issues of leadership and managing change, once more!  But, as Macbeth said, “If t’were done when ‘tis done, ‘tis well it were done quickly”, or something, so we got on with it.
The answers that we came up with were as follows:
… live the answers to the questions people are asking.
… are free to share their stories.
… experience and live out of the resources of God’s grace.
… will engage in the risky business of asking questions about its role, mission and future.
… enjoy God and want others to enjoy him too.
… are understood and loved.
We, the group of course members, were not a ‘Church’ as such, but during those two days away we were a worshipping community of faith.  Amongst other things, it was good to be able to share our stories and raise our questions with one another in a context of love and grace.  We can listen for hours; but, until we start to speak (or write) our own thoughts and tell our own experience to one another, we perhaps don’t really know what we believe or think.
What do you think the Church should be becoming?  Do you agree that it should be ‘becoming’ at all, or do you think it should just ‘be’ as it always has been.  I’m looking forward to reading the results of the questionnaires – the one that has gone out to the congregation at St Thomas’s and others to the wider community, including those you receive with this magazine.