I’ve enjoyed my first year in the north west in the Sankey Valley Circuit. I was relatively unfamiliar to the area when I first arrived but have been surrounded by people who were very friendly and have encouraged me in my ministry. Sometimes when you get to a place there is that initial welcome which is soon lost, but for me I give thanks for the support and help given and received. Sure there have been challenges to be faced but for me the hallmark of a good Christian community is about faith, hope and love and I have found these in abundance.
Before coming last year I was aware that the Circuit had been through a very difficult time. My perception is that we have come out of that time stronger because of the trials that were endured. It has been good to see how the ministerial staff team have worked together to further God’s work. In terms of theology and praxis we are very different people but there has been the sense of us being there for one another. It has been good to welcome Linda and Julie to our staff team in September and it is good to see them making such an early positive contribution to Circuit life. In all of this we are supported by good lay leaders at Circuit level and in the churches. This is a good place to be.
Ahead we continue to face challenges. It is clear that the Methodist Church is moving to a situation where the number of presbyters available for stationing will be well short of those sought by the Circuits. The challenge is how we respond to this crisis. The Circuit has decided to operate on a cluster basis, working with a team ministry model and we look to try and make this work to the benefit of all.
There seems to a recognition in many of our churches that traditional forms of worship often do not meet the needs of our people. Many churches are looking to discussion services, the use of film clips and more contemporary styles of worship. The world is changing and whilst the essential gospel message stays the same the expression of the message is being adapted to meet the current context. In the Circuit New Song continues to develop as a Fresh Expression of worship I anticipate that we shall see more emerging fresh expressions of church emerging.
I look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm as we move forward guided by the Holy Spirit.