April 2018

By the time you read this, our Alpha course, which has been running in St Monica’s since January, will have finished. In that time, we will have served around 300 meals to an average of 25 people a week. Everyone has made a number of new friends, deepened old friendships, and discussed some of the biggest questions of life. It has been great fun and we will do it again as soon as we can. So, do watch this space, we have already received substantial donations to enable us to offer another course soon. If you haven’t done Alpha before (or even if you have) I would certainly recommend that you give it a go. I feel sure that you will receive the same message from anyone you talk to who has been on the course. It is a wonderful experience in itself and a very good way of looking into the basics of the Christian faith or getting a refresher.

It is, I think, appropriate to take this opportunity to thank those who have worked so hard to make the course such a success. The team of hosts who have been leading the discussions during the sessions have been busy preparing since the summer and have given a great deal of time and a great deal of themselves. Thank you all! A number of others have also served behind the scenes, especially in catering for the evening meals, and without them we simply could not have run the course. I am especially grateful to Judy Metcalfe and to Joe and Val Jordan for all they have done in sourcing food week by week; to Nick Hollinshead who has provided tables and decorations; to John Ashton and Guy Hordern who have always been on hand to set up beforehand; and to Margaret Turner, Judith George, Tim and Tracey Blunn, Tracy Browne, Chris Stotts and Ilse Heaton who have cooked, served and washed up on Monday evenings. It has been wonderful to see so many members of the church family working together in a variety of ways to make the course such a success. 

This sense of serving together as a large team has resonated with with one of the core lessons we took away from our Leading Your Church into Growth (LYCiG) programme of last year. Our commitment, following LYCiG, was to seek God’s help to grow our church in numbers, in spiritual commitment, and in service to our local community. A crucial aspect of fulfilling the second of these aims, growth in spiritual commitment, is serving. Just attending services, on its own, is not normally the best way to see people grow spiritually. People who are given the opportunity to put their faith into practice through service, tend to find that with this action comes a deepening of their faith. Not only that, but working together strengthens the sense of belonging that we feel in the church, which itself is part of the growth of the church as a family. 

This observation has been very important to the PCC in the last six months as we have considered re-structuring the way that we do things as a church. We have been living with the unsatisfactory situation of too few people doing too much work. That imbalance is actually unhelpful for two reasons. First, it demands an unreasonable and unrealistic commitment from those people. The wardens, along with Linda Caswell and John Ashton, work extremely hard to keep the Church running and I am concerned about the burden that they have been bearing. Secondly, and no less seriously, that means that the opportunities for fruitful service have not been distributed as widely as they might have been, which means that the opportunities for growth haven’t always been available. 

To address, this we have agreed as a PCC to try to spread the load a bit more evenly. We already have a number of sub-committees to the PCC which conduct its business. The plan we have adopted aims to develop this structure, to give subcommittees a clear remit and a budget so that they can manage the affairs of the Church, with the PCC itself offering oversight. The committees will be chaired by members of the PCC, but membership of them will be open to anyone in the church family, at the discretion of the chair. In this way, we hope to draw more people in to the active life of the church and also to provide capacity to handle the numerical growth we prayerfully expect to see in the membership of the church.

We will give further details of these plans, and the opportunities to be involved, at the APCM on April 22nd. Personally speaking, I find this a very exciting time to be involved in the ministry of the Old Church. I hope that you do too!


Nick Tucker