The Future’s Bright – The Future’s Local

Last week I wrote a little about the way the future is beginning to take shape. I want to share a little bit more on that subject today, and in particular on how the wider context of our Diocese and Deanery need to be taken into account.

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The Diocesan Synod recently voted to approve a new way of working called ‘Resourcing Sustainable Church – A Time to Change Together’. If you haven’t already visited the Diocesan website and had a look at the headlines, I do encourage you to do so.

For us, it seems to me, there are two main questions raised by this. The first is what role we see St Nicholas church playing beyond our traditional parish boundaries. Or, to put it another way, what we can contribute to the ministry and mission of the Church of England in the city of Lincoln and the county of Lincolnshire. The second, and perhaps more immediate, question is how we develop our work in partnership with St Mary Magdalene, the parish that is our nearest neighbour and of which I am now the Incumbent.

These questions are being asked all over the country. There is a recognition, which I share, that the time has come for a deeper re-think of how we organise and deliver local ministry. This is not, at least as far as I’m concerned, about centralisation and a retreat from engagement with our local communities. Quite the opposite. It is, however, a recognition that these communities are now geographically larger and more fluid. People make choices about where to shop, where to exercise and where to worship on the basis of a lot of different factors, not just where they live. Recognising that we must adapt to these changes gives us as the Church of England in the city and county of Lincoln a change to do things better.

In just over a week’s time our PCC and our ministry team will be meeting with their opposite numbers at St Mary’s to discuss ways in which we can be more together than we were apart. Later in the month, the PCC will meet to form a final view of where to place St Nicholas in the ‘church categorisation’ exercise that forms part of the Diocesan process.

In the meantime, we have agreed to experiment with allowing our morning services to evolve in different directions from each other. The 10:30 service will continue to move back towards what was our familiar pattern of mid-morning worship before the lockdown. The 9:00 service will be re-shaped with the aim of making it more welcoming to children and families. For those who prefer a quieter service, an 8:00 Said Eucharist will be introduced, on the first Sunday of the month to begin with.

I wrote last week that we must do all we can to grow as a church. This is not a task for the clergy alone, but for everyone who loves our church and wants it to survive. None of us can predict the future, but we can walk confidently towards it with faith and hope and love, together.

May God bless you all,