From our Minister

God of Surprises and Welcomes,

I have often heard it said that the God that we picture is too small. Or that we forget that God is a God of surprises. I have to
confess that I have never believed this or forgotten the promises of God. But I am able to say that there have been times in my ministry, which is approaching twenty years now, where I have held on to the promises of God, but have seen little evidence of growth. Sure, I have seen people come to faith and to offer to serve the Church. I have seen wonderful outreach projects that have changed the lives of not only those who are in need, but in our volunteers. Sadly however, for most of my ministry I have supported churches that are in a state of decline, or if not in decline, churches where the numbers going to
glory are just about equalling the numbers going in. It has been a hard slog. 

However, as I write I cannot deny that the situation over the last six months in some of my churches is shifting. We are growing. Yes, you heard me right. We are growing. I am not sure if it is a result of people finding the energy after the covid pandemic to think about what is important in life and to come to church for the first time, or to start coming again. I am not sure how much of this is chance because new people are moving into the area (although I cannot see the logic in being fatalistic about this - even if people are moving, they are still choosing to make a home in our church here at Queen Street, and in other churches as well. I think it best not to analyse these things too deeply - apart from to recognise that people feel comfortable in our churches because they feel loved and they recognise that we have a vision for the future. 

It must be said that this influx of new people is challenging me in all the best ways to ask how we are connecting with people, and what support they need - and how we help them to become even more involved in the life of the church. Some people don’t need any support -they have come to us from other churches and just throw themselves into what is happening. Others just need a 'welcome to 

planet Methodism and the United Reformed Church session'. Others have little experience of church and faith. We are all different.
Elsewhere, communication can be difficult. Some people do e-mail well but can't text - and the opposite can be true. Some people
message me on Facebook. Others will use the good old phone. And of course, there is always face-to-face (which is pretty much the best). 

Our pastoral team is following up on those who are new to the Church, and what God is doing is a-maz-ing. We are keen to invite new people to become members of the church - which is essentially a way of saying. 'This is my spiritual home. This is where I am going to be loved, and from where I am going to love others.’ And of course for us as a church it is something that leads us to question how we can help people find life in all its fullness here. If you are reading this letter and you are new to church, and you would be interested in membership, please do not hesitate to make yourself known. 

There is something powerful happening here. The wind is blowing. We spoke at our Trustees meeting about how welcoming new people, and involving new people is a whole church task in which we all do our part. Queen Street has a deep sense of direction, as we press forward with employing a Children, Family, and Community Worker, and as we continue to question how we maintain and adapt our building as a place of welcome. 

I conclude with the covenant prayer, (next page) which simply acknowledges that if we do our part, God will do his. 

Every blessing,

Langley