From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures
Telling and hearing stories about a time when you clearly saw God at work in congregations and faith communities across our Presbytery is going to make for incredibly enriching conversations at the first of our Presbytery gatherings next year as an important kick off to our Presbytery mission planning throughout 2022.
One of the stories that quickly came to mind for Pete Howe of the Tathra congregation as he thought about a time of clearly seeing God at work in congregations and faith communities across our Presbytery goes like this:
A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to walk in the English countryside. At breakfast in a B&B the host told us enthusiastically about what was happening in her village. I asked her what was happening in the church.
“Oh them”, she said unenthusiastically. “I don’t know”.
A week later we went to a Sunday service at New Road Baptist Church in Oxford. We heard an unforgettable sermon from Paul Fidess who I later googled and found was Professor of Systematic Theology at Oxford University. I had a coffee with him after the service and in the middle of our conversation he pointed through the door to the shopping mall across the square, and said “Jesus is doing something in that mall. We have to listen to people to find out what it is”.
A year or so later I experienced my first Fresh Expressions Zoom in our Presbytery and heard exciting stories about churches that grew outwards into their communities rather than trying to bring people in to worship situations that were comfortable for the church, but not so for newcomers.
My eyes are beginning to open to the fact that God is already at work in my community, and we can be involved. We have something that people in every community long for, whether they know it yet, or not.
It’s an exciting time to be humble, an exciting time to pray, to meet, to go to people and open our eyes to find God in them. In each other.
I hope that Pete’s story sparks some thoughts for you, and I look forward to hearing your stories at our first Presbytery gathering next year about a time when you clearly saw God at work in congregations and faith communities across our Presbytery.
The dates for these Presbytery gatherings align with the Presbytery meetings. They will be the first of half of the Saturdays on 19 March, 21 May, 20 August, and 19 November, starting at 10am. You will be very welcome to stick around for the business work of the Presbytery in the afternoons, but mostly we would really value your participation in the first half of the days.
These gatherings will be open for all to attend who are keen to be part of contributing to aspirations for the future life and witness of congregations and faith communities across our Presbytery as we seek a fuller participation in Christ’s mission in the world.