I have now been in the Sankey Valley Methodist Circuit for six months. Work is currently in hand on the preaching plan for the June to August 2017 quarter of the year, By the end of my first year in the Circuit I will have led services in all Circuit churches. It has been good to engage in the activities of our Methodist Aided School at Nutgrove. I have been very pleased with the welcome I have received from people across the Circuit. This area of the country is new to me and I look forward to exploring this part of the world and meeting it’s people.
In the churches it is clear that immense challenges lie ahead of us. The Methodist Church faces a significant shortfall annually of the number of ordained presbyters available to fill the vacant posts in the Circuit. In my opinion this is going to get much worse over the next few years. Churches will need to consider how they can function as churches going forward when there are fewer presbyters available to the church. Churches will need to consider how they can work together with neighbouring churches to advance the mission of the church or indeed whether the mission in particular churches is now completed. Churches will need to consider what it is it is necessary to have presbyters for and what can be done in other ways.
These changes in the church take place against the background of significant changes in the social context in which we live. Pressure in social care provision, an ageing society, pressure on our health service and in our schools remind us that we live in times of change and challenge. Add to this Brexit and the uncertainty of the implications of leaving the European Union and the situation becomes ever more complex. We pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to meet the challenges which lie ahead.