At our forthcoming APCM (Annual Parochial Church Meeting), I will add my paper to the various reports from Church officers, giving account of our life in 2014 and reflecting upon it. It is my especial privilege, as parish priest, to be able to both affirm those reports and also set a sense of vision for the coming year. I therefore pre-publish here what I will present at our meeting on Sunday 22 March 2015...
Vicar’s Report to the APCM
- a look back at 2014…
- a vision statement for 2015…
My report begins with thanksgiving to others for their excellent reports at our APCM and for all the work to which they attest and for which we owe many debts of gratitude; it proceeds to lay before us those matters which are a matter of ongoing prayer, discernment and petition; it dares to then dream dreams and lay hold of God's promises for the year ahead of us.
I have had the privilege of sharing in the life and journey of the people of God in this place over three years, now, and I am increasingly-delighted that you have called me to be your pastor and priest; I am committed to the longterm flourishing of this faithful flock.
I want to just briefly share with you what I feel to be the key items in our life together as church family, as matters for praise, prayer, and purpose:
ü Faithful people – many have already been thanked by others; I wish to reiterate this and particularly add my thanks:
1) to the Ministry Team, and especially to Fr Mike & Sue Diplock - for their important whole-week ministries of pastoral care and liturgy - & to Sarah Collins for her huge energies, resilience and creative imagination both as our Parish and Centre Administrator, our leader for children’s ministry, and in many other capacities;
2) to the Churchwardens, Bernard Eaton & Judith Woolnough, who have continued to be a tower of strength to me throughout a year in which we have faced many challenges which have required adroit thinking and decision-making; in 2014, much energy has been expended in revising the ‘business development plan’ for our Peterhouse Centre and seeing through its implementation;
3) to Dan Hall and the Project Team, who – as we pass from 2014 into these coming years – have been laying excellent groundwork for the major project tasks ahead of us as a church family, reimagining our church building as part of our mission to serve the parish community and beyond.
ü Worship & learning – numbers of communicants has averaged approaching 60 for our weekly time of Eucharist, higher at our All Age worship times, which now fall at key junctures through the year, and which continue to innovate multi-sensory worship, using our church building and talented liturgy-leaders in a variety of ways! It has been good to have the mid-week Eucharist as a point of still reflection, alongside the busy-ness of a Sunday. Sermons and liturgies are regularly placed on our parish blog, for ongoing reference and learning. An E17 School for Prayer has been a superb development, and a gift we have offered to others beyond the parish.
ü Our developing work at Peterhouse Centre– this has been a key, transitional year for our reach out into the community through the Peterhouse Centre. Sarah (Collins) gives details in her excellent and thorough report.
ü Our stewardship of finances and other resources – as mentioned above, our major challenge – to turn around the fortunes of the Peterhouse Centre – has been a remarkable achievement. Within our ‘regular’ church finances, we have ridden pretty close to the wind, but through God’s grace still the right side of a deficit, having paid in full our Parish Share and other major obligations. Particular thanks are due to Tom Marshall, as PCC Honorary Treasurer, who we thank for his three years of service.
- We need to pray for a vision for these years to come, and to open ourselves to that vision;
- Some part of our prayers need to be ones of thankfulness for all that God has gifted us, and some for imagination and daring for what will come;
- In particular, I wish to ask for your continuing prayers for the developing use of our two buildings, Peterhouse and St Peter’s, in conjunction, so that we can meet both the challenge of repairing or replacing parts of buildings and also continue to really reach out into our community and have these places being alive and active throughout the week, for a still wider range of people and purposes. The coming major project will be the focus of many energies from now until 2019 or beyond.
Ø We will need to support the PCC and its hard-working sub-Committees as they work on these strands of vision, including with some time away to pray and support one another, at some point over the coming year;
Ø We will also need to support the Project Team as it works with community consultations, architects, structural engineers and fundraisers – we are hopeful that our initial grant-funding may enable us to employ someone to help with all this project animation;
Ø We will need to keep focused on what it means to genuinely include everyone in our life, witness and worship;
Ø We will need to continue to articulate and be creative about what it means to be an intentional, Christian community of learning and mission;
Ø We will need to be talking together about our friendships with other community groups, people of faith, Forest School and the parish of St Andrew’s, Leytonstone, and about how these might develop for the future;
Ø We will need to continue to be very diligent in our stewardship of resources. We share responsibility together, for we are a family.
Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.
The altar from which God gives us the gift of himself is not for exploitation by insiders who grab and loot. In the old system, the animals are killed and the bodies disposed of outside the camp. The blood is then brought inside to the altar as a sacrifice for sin. It’s the same with Jesus. He was crucified outside the city gates—that is where he poured out the sacrificial blood that was brought to God’s altar to cleanse his people.
So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is - not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.