Langley's Piece

Weekly bulletin for 23/09/21 – from Langley

Yes, it is me this week rather than Rev’d Viv. As a first note, and before I forget, Viv and I are thinking that it might be more helpful in terms of workflow for us to move towards a monthly bulletin where we alternate who gives the update, with Sue circulating any weekly information that arises. We will try this and hold it under review. 

Co-superintendency. This seems to be working well – and entirely naturally as Viv and I both serve our own churches, support each other in the work, and take small but significant steps in serving the wider circuit. The handover of Brookside and Elton from me to Viv is going well. I am remaining at Brookside to support the Boy’s Brigade. Elton continues to develop, and it was wonderful to be able to join them for their open afternoon the Sunday before last. This week we met for CLT, and we tend to talk over the phone or meet at least once a week so we can keep each other informed of what is happening. 

Circuit Leadership Team met this week:

We reviewed, among others, our five-year projection. I introduced the idea of forecasting as best we can, how things will progress in the future, some five years ago. Essentially, as one would expect we are drawing from reserves now, with this figure reducing by half in five years. As ever, this gives us a reassurance that whilst we are in a deficit and need to support churches, we are stable in now. As stable as one can be whilst facing the ongoing threat of a pandemic, that is.  

Treasurers, you will be also glad to know that we also reviewed a request from the Connexional Team, via the Methodist Conference, that churches draw from 15% of their reserves to contribute to a significant shortfall in the Pension Reserve Fund. This has been a very difficult request for us to put to churches as ministers, understandably. The Circuit will follow up once we have consulted with our finance team, but the current thinking is that to shield churches from the immediate cost of this, the circuit will make a payment from its reserves, and then invite churches to contribute towards this when conditions allow. There has been much conversation about this request, especially as churches emerge from covid and seek to establish a more secure financial footing.

Synod was meaningful – and we reviewed this - with a focus on encouraging resilience in us all and with an additional focus on chaplaincy. Some of the advice given over resilience from a pioneer working from within our own District was particularly helpful, and drew from some of the practices illustrated within the Methodist Way of Life, which is a great and ever expanding resource. Worship Leaders and Local Preachers, perhaps this is a timely reminder to look at the Methodist Church website for a whole range of resources. There is scope for themed preaching in this area and resources for starting up small groups. 

Ailsworth.  We continue to pray for the people of Ailsworth bearing in mind their pastoral needs. The District gave permission for Ailsworth to ‘Cease to Meet’, marking the end of our worship and mission there from the building, but the mission of the wider Methodist Church remains. Please pray for the community particularly as Christmas approaches and memories will loom of the gatherings that used to take place. 

New Places for New People. Please pray for the good folk of Westgate New Church and their BoB project which they hope to establish as the church regathers. WNC is significant because of its city centre location and passion for city centre ministry – whatever the future holds. Significantly the trustees stated that if the North Westgate Development resulted in a financial payout rather than a like-for-like property replacement, they would still seek an ecumenical partner to work with within the city centre and retain their mission. How encouraging is that! Meanwhile, the fact that they have both moved as a Church five years go from Westgate Church to Westgate New Church, and they have lived for decades with the uncertain ‘is it on, is it off’ questions around the proposed development, means that as a church they remain anchored to what is truly important (sometimes we can idolise our buildings), and that their spirituality is one of being faithful for today. The city centre was of course hit hard by the pandemic. its impact, and people’s lack of confidence to return to worship has meant that their emergence from the lockdown has been slower than other churches. However, things are moving. I stand on the threshold welcoming new people in. I attended a percussion concert last week, Hussein’s Soup Kitchen rented the car park over the weekend, Peterborough Sight will return for coffee morning next week, and the Widows and Widowers group is returning as well. Please pray for the Bookshop, for CROPS, and for all our community groups as we work out what life will look like as we remerge. 

If you would appreciate a chat or catch-up, I will be at WNC at 11am next week. It might be helpful to e-mail me before rather than try to fit something in that is more substantial when you are passing. But I am interested in what God will do if I offer this time and space. Whilst loitering with intent this week I met with three people – and every conversation was pastoral and filled with hope. 

If you know of anyone who would appreciate being part of a Thursday fellowship group based around food, or if you are interested in assisting yourself with catering and supporting people, then please let me know. BoB (Back of Beyond) will be a Christian gathering for people who among others, are at risk of loneliness. 

Brookside – a plug for their Tuesday Fellowship. Once again, another Christian group that re-emerged this week was Thursday Fellowship, which starts at 2:30pm and is looking to meet every other week. Again, this is open to people of all ages. The group begins with a short period of worship and then invites a speaker. They are appealing for new members and whilst they would welcome people from other churches across the circuit, they also want to reach out beyond this. If you are interested, e-mail me on revlmh@gmail.com

Mission Action Plans – outcomes. It has been a privilege to join with Whittlesey and walk them through the first phase of the Mission Plan, which is a church review. Although I don’t like the idea of carrying out a SWOT analysis in church (SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, Threats), it is a useful way of looking at the themes of Our Calling (Worship, Learning & Caring, Service, Evangelism), and questioning what needs attending to. Just letting everyone in the church know that we are going to set out on a journey where we review the church, the community’s needs, and discern where God is leading us, is something. Anyway, for Whittlesey, just the first stage in this (and some helpful open questions about when people had felt the most fulfilled in the life of the Church) led to discussions about (a) how we could make changes to the front of the church to improve visibility, access, and welcome, (b) how we might employ a community worker to assist us (precise details to be worked out but it is a vision, and (c) agreeing that we have a passion for messy church, supporting youth, and all growing together as disciples. Great meeting. Meanwhile, at our Crowland Church Council we began to think about how we could continue our work within MAP (different kind of MAP now – Methodists and Anglicans in Partnership – with some helpful questions not only about encouraging membership within the chapel but also about how we encourage evangelism beyond our walls. Meanwhile I have just received a youth report from Oundle where it is evident that even though the church is small, it has enabled some deeply significant youth ministry through Ian, Mandy and Maisie who are sensing that whilst one deeply impacting piece of work among young people with profounds needs may well have come to an end, the work still continues.

Livestream - Remember, Rev’d Viv’s Friday podcast is out tomorrow but the link is live now on - https://soundcloud.com/user-567551862/lord-may-we-never-forget-the Matt is leading livestream Sunday Worship online. The plan remains that I will continue to offer one Sunday a month Livestream rather than recorded. If we cannot offer livestream we will indeed go down the recorded route, but live is better from the perspective of encouraging interaction and prayers, and building a community. Pray for Nicky Ward as she continues to support us, and give thanks for Rev’d Dale as he continues to provide cover for when I am away.

…I think that is enough for now. I hope you are encouraged. Take care, stay safe. 

Rev’d Langley

Greetings! 

I hope you are all keeping well.   Well, it’s my job today, as the new “co-super”,  to write the bulletin so here goes!  

So what’s been happening over the last couple of weeks?  A lot really!  

 

We had a wonderful local preachers meeting last week.  It really was.  We shared communion together and spent time with each other and with the Lord.  We met at Brookside and our prayer for the evening was simply, “Lord, may the words we speak be as salt.  May they bring comfort, healing, new life and peace.” We agreed that often it’s the conversations we have with people either before or after the service where we so often see God at work.  Indeed, a couple of us shared with the group how this has definitely been the case recently.  To be able to offer a little prayer with someone who is struggling before they leave church is a real privilege. When we go out to lead worship we would be wise to spend an equal amount of time listening as we do speaking!  

 

On Thursday we had our monthly staff meting.  We now have a new member, Alexandra.  Alexandra works with Sarah’s as curate and it’s was a joy to welcome her to the staff team. 

 

I had a lovely day on Sunday. I was at Yaxley in the morning and then went to Eltons open afternoon.  It was great. There were so many people and the cake was amazing!!  I met some lovely people and enjoyed every minute!    

 

Monday afternoon I went to Ailsworth for an coffee and chat.  Again it was a lovely afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  

 

Monday evening I met with Langley and the Brookside stewards to talk about how the next couple of months are going to work as I increasingly take more responsibility for the church over the coming weeks.  It was a good meeting.  Langley and I are going to be working closely across the circuit and so the good news is he won’t be loosing touch with either Elton or Brookside completely.  

 

There have been other meetings too this week including the Superintendents meeting and our circuit safeguarding meeting.  Thank you to David Whiting for taking on the role of Circuit Safeguarding Officer and for working with the churches so we are all up to date with the training and paperwork etc.  Not an easy task!

 

There are other things I could mention but I think that’s enough for now.  

 

Other than to say, I’m very aware this week that there are an awful lot of poorly people at the moment.  If you’re battling with ill health or living with pain, may the Lord comfort you and hold you in His arms.  If you’re worried about a loved on, may the Lord grant you His peace.  And finally if you’re grieving the death of a loved one, may you know His comfort and His Love.  

 

God bless 

 

Viv