There can be little doubt that the next few years will be a time of great change for the Church
of England. In many places the Church continues to face numerical and financial decline.
Many congregations (and clergy!) are ageing and the current situation has been described as
a “ticking time bomb”. Bishops and senior Church leaders are proposing changes that,
guided by God’s presence, will better equip the Church of England for its 21st Century
mission and ministry.
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus, who
love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show God’s love
in every part of their lives.
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|First Thoughts - The Vicar's Letter
|Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words..., A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
|A Prayer for Lent
whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness,
so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
CCL Copyright Licence No 670491
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- First Words, Prayer for the Month and First Thoughts have been updated for
February - see below
- Read Peter Bradley, the Dean of Sheffield letter for February - Bishop's Letter.
- The February issue of the Parish Magazine is available On-Line.
- Have a look at some interesting and thought provoking videos - Viral Videos
- The Diary and Rotas page now has on-line features and will always be 'up-to-date'
- Don't forget to check the Weekly Notices for service times and the latest news.
- Listen Again - Listen again to recently recorded Sunday sermons including; Easter,
Palm Sunday, The Lenten Reflections etc.
- New Page - 6 Faces in a Wall - St. Mary’s link with local sculptor Andrew Vickers
- Free Wi-Fi available in church for those who need to be 'connected'
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- Lent 2015 – Lent begins on 18th February. We’ll mark the beginning of Lent with
traditional Service of Holy Communion with the Imposition of Ashes. More details of
Lent in the March Magazine
- Lent Reflections - On Wednesday evenings in Lent, at 7.30 pm, we will be holding a
series of Lent Reflections. Each Reflection will include hymns and music. This year’s
theme will be “Growth in All its Aspects” and I will share with you my final reflections
on the future of the Church of England before I move to Devon. It will be a time to
reflect on all that God is doing in Ecclesfield and what God might be calling you to do
in the future.
Local churches are being challenged to look at numerical and spiritual growth and to look at
what God is doing in their midst. They are being challenged to harness the gifts of the Holy
Spirit. This will involve new and exciting ventures, but it will also involve a confident sharing
of what God is doing now. If Sunday morning congregations are dwindling then I would
suggest people need help and support to recover a confidence in God’s active presence.
You’d expect me to say this as I’m a Vicar. I’m called to nurture and value God’s active
presence wherever I find it and I certainly find it in many different ways of being church. But
what I am about to say is more of “nailing my colours to the mast” moment. On reflection I
believe that the Church of England may be overlooking the potential of traditional models of
being church when it comes to delivering growth and sustainability in the 21st Century. In
other words I think that we can too easily talk of church plants and fresh expressions (both of
which I support) rather than attending to God’s presence in the existing Church communities
that we participate in. Or, put in even simpler terms, there’s life in the old dog yet!
The challenge of a changing Church is to see the future of the Church growing out of its past
and its present. It is to value what God has done in the past, is doing in the present and will
do in the future. We are not starting again and everything does not need to change. Some
things will change and some things will stay the same but, above all else, there will be a place
for all in the future mission and ministry of the Church in this land.
The Changing Church
Many of us welcome the Church’s realisation that things need to change, but change also
brings challenges and uncertainties. Those of us who go to Church now wonder if the
Church of the future will still value us. We worry that the Church may no longer nurture
and cherish the values that we nurture and cherish. It is true that, at times, the Church of
England can appear to adopt an “everything must change” approach. The end of traditional
Sunday morning Church. The end of robed choirs and traditional hymns. The end of the
Parish system. Some in the Church would like to “wipe the slate clean” and start again. For
me, this is a nonsense. I passionately believe in what is described as a “mixed economy”
Church. A Church that values received and traditional models of being church and also
values new and exciting models of being church.