working together for a Christian presence in every community
As always it was great to see so many friends and neighbours in Church for a variety of Nativities, Carols and the Christmas Communions over the festive season. Thank you to all those people who contributed in any way to making these very special community celebrations happen. In the midst of all the preparations for Christmas, the congregations of the South Calder Mission Community undertook two new initiatives together, taking us out into the community. A host of heavenly angels were created by industrious knitters and then distributed around the area for people to discover. Each angel wore a little label inviting their finders to take them home as a gift from the local Church - a message of hope in God’s care and concern at Christmas time. We all recognise that while this family time is a joy for many people it can also be a time of sadness for others; the angels were sent out with our prayers that those who received them would be reminded of God’s love. Free gifts were also at the heart of the carol singing that took place in Gosforth as shoppers were offered a free mince pie. Many people I spoke to were taken aback not to be asked for a donation but were surprised and pleased to pause and chat and receive a Christmas gift or greeting instead. These very simple ideas helped us to reach people who may never have found their way into our Churches with a reminder of God’s greatest gift at Christmas time, his son Jesus. Building on the idea that gifts can open us up to the grace and goodness of God the theme of this year’s Lent Course is hospitality and the gift that we give when we truly welcome people, into our homes, churches and communities. Look out for fliers in Church, with more information next month.
The Rev’d John Riley, Rector of the Seatallan Benefice has announced his retirement in September of this year; this will inevitably bring challenges and changes to our Mission Community. My sadness at losing John and Lesley as colleagues is tempered by the recognition of all they have given, not only to us here, but to the wider Church through their long years of ministry. They have worked hard and long and we wish them a healthy and happy and a very well-deserved retirement when it comes. Before then there is still much to do! This announcement has been made in good time to allow the appointment process to begin straight away. I would encourage you to join our friends in the Seatallen Benefice as they pray for the discernment of all those employed in seeking the right person to come and join us in ministry here.
On Wednesday February 12 at 7.30pm representatives of the congregations in the Mission Community will meet at Waberthwaite Village Hall for the Spring Gathering. This meeting will have a focus on Worship; reflecting on how we create worship opportunities that are accessible for a wide range of people, nourishing for those who take part and sustainable with the resources available to us. Locally some of our congregations have experimented with different styles and patterns of worship. This Gathering will be an opportunity to share some of these insights and learn from one another. We will also have a speaker highlighting how we can ensure our services are accessible for those suffering from Dementia. Light refreshments will be available throughout the evening and there will be a time set aside for worship and prayer.
My hope is that a focus on worship and an opportunity to contribute to a discussion on its local development will be of interest and that more people than just the official congregational representatives will want to come along. We need to hear from a good cross section of people at the Gathering and hopefully that will enable the message to get back to the congregations and for further pray and discussion to take place there. It would be great if we could see some practical initiatives taking place in our Churches as a result of this meeting.
Speaking of practical initiatives as a result of a Gathering here is an important date for your diary Saturday 25th April. At our Autumn Gathering our speaker gave us some information about a day workshop entitled Moving Forward, which aims to help Mission Communities plan their priorities. A number of people expressed an interest in us holding a workshop locally and this has now been arranged for 25th April. More details next month, for now save the date in your diaries, we will need a good cross section of people to come along to make this effective. Please consider giving a day to help discern God’s good purposes for the Mission Community over the next few years. Best wishes for 2020