May 31, 2015

Freddy's June Letter

Click more to read Freddy's June Letter
Category: General
Posted by: suzi hedgecock

Linda Runcie, wife of a former Archbishop till she died in 2012, once told an interviewer, "Too much religion makes me go pop." I was reminded of this when recently I heard through "the grapevine" that some of our congregation are getting a bit "put off" (if that's the right expression) by my enthusiasm for "Renewal" and frequent mentioning of "Bishop Robert and growth in prayer and discipleship." Oh dear, there I go again! I get the message, but the difficulty is - I can't help it! Yes, vision is about keeping our feet on the ground and surviving as best we can, but when one's vision is the picture of the future, then that produces passion!

There is a Church of England programme of "Reform and Renewal" given out to all Dioceses and from there sent down to the parishes. Whether we like it or not, we are part of that programme. And this is important:- the starting point for the programme is a recognition that the Church of England's capacity to proclaim the faith afresh, in each generation, will be decisively eroded - unless the trend towards older and smaller worshipping communities is reversed. Some seem reluctant to face up to the consequences of this, while others doubt that anything will make a difference. It's particularly difficult in the rural churches, because it is the older congregations who are providing the finance!

In any average group of people, most are not going to become Christians - no matter what we do. They are indifferent, mterialistic, or committed to an alternative ideology or religion. However, there is always a minority who are searching or sympathetic - the searchers and seekers. It's a small but significant minority. Our work then, is not to try and persuade everyone, but to look out for the searchers. That is why I think it is so important to make Sunday worship interesting, attractive, enjoyable, welcoming and vital - for the seeker and searcher may be "passing through." The passing "through" may become the "occaisional." The "occaisional" may become "regular." The "regular" may become "committed" and involved (if they so wish!). We cannot afford to lose the "searcher" if the services seem boring and irrelevant.

The local church is a key "gathering place." Once basic material needs are met, the key element in human happiness seems to be a set of healthy, personal relationships. Today people have a desperate need for community, relationship, friendship, forgiveness, encouragement and - ACCEPTANCE.

Recently, someone said to me, "I'm not looking for a friendly church (which we are), I'm looking for a church where I can make friends." What more can I say?..

Father Freddy

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