Reading yesterday's post on the plates I am juggling, Howard quite rightly picked me up on the absence of references to involving others, and the risks that this approach would present.
Believe me, I'm very well aware of these.
The treasured "golden age" in parish in the valley was during the ministry of my predecessor but one, during the 1990s. Church and culture were rather different then, and he and a succession of beloved curates seem to have presented between them an amalgum of the mythical omni-competent vicar (though, reassuringly, he was also a great one for losing his keys!). In the following years there was, if I've grasped the situation properly, a widening gulf between a congregation that hoped and believed that their priest would make things happen for them and clergy who came to ministry with other, quite different assumptions.
Somehow instead of acknowledging this and meeting in the middle, people subsided into inertia. There was a perhaps a sense of disappointment and lost initiative from both directions - and it seems to me that helping the congregation remember that they are all invited to join in with God's mission to love and serve our community is an important part of what I'm about.
It's not a speedy process, though there are many hopeful signs this year.
- My wonderful Reader colleague has just brought a long-held dream to birth in the form of a weekly "Drop In for Tea" session in the church hall (a regular booking ended just as she began to put the final arrangements in place, making the whole project infinitely more manageable)
- We've had a really positive response to a short course on pastoral visiting, a team has been established, and just last weekend three fab members of church in the valley gave up their Saturday to attend a really excellent CME event on Baptism.
- The recent joint PCC away day was another landmark - with some wonderfully honest and self-aware comments from both church councils, and lots of hope for the future.
- A relatively new member of the congregation turns out to have deep and wide experience of enabling prayer - just as the PCC in the valley identified raising the profile of prayer as a priority for the coming year