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October 2013

October 29, 2013

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Dear Friends

I once heard John Lennon being interviewed live on radio but all I remember of it is that in answer to a question which I’ve long forgotten he replied ‘real life is what happens while you are busy making other plans’. That phrase has stuck with me ever since. It is, of course, undeniably a self-evident truth. However it is also a deeply philosophical statement that should guide our lives as individuals and as a church, for we must both have our plans and respond to events as they happen.

We have just celebrated our 156th Birthday for on 22nd September 1857 Rubery Congregational Church was covenanted. We could equally have called it our 162nd Birthday for Congregationalists started meeting in Rubery in 1851. We have a long and proud heritage and thousands of people have called this church their church. Sunday School, later Junior Church, since the days of Queen Victoria, children’s uniformed organisations since at least the 1920’s, a drama group since 1952 are three examples of how we have been at the centre of village life and influenced several generations of Rubery. The renovation and improvement of the first set of buildings, the move to Whetty Lane in 1928, the replacement Hall in 1961 and the new concourse in 2005 as well as the removal of some pews and the development of audio-visual equipment have demonstrated our commitment to the future and our desire to grow the work. Some of these things were the result of careful planning, eg the move to Whetty Lane, whilst others were a response to needs, eg the removal of a pew to better accommodate the computer equipment.

Our future will be marked by a mixture of careful planning and a response to needs as they arise. We have begun to look at a new style worship opportunity aimed at young families and hopefully we will be in a position to bring outline plans to a church meeting before long. Over the last eighteen months we have begun sharing more with St Chad’s but whether this is only a temporary matter of convenience or the hand of God guiding us slowly to a closer future is yet to become clear. The building of the Concourse and associated works went a long way to making our premises DDA compliant but we need to move on and ensure that all areas are easily accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with limited mobility. We have an initial meeting set up with the newly appointed Synod Evangelist which hopefully will lead, eventually, to a viable and sustainable evangelism strategy. The Lights of Love Service started last year proved its worth and will be repeated. We can all see things that need to be addressed to make us even more effective as a church and even more welcoming as a building but there will be needs, as yet unknown, that we will have to respond to. Of course we can’t predict what they are otherwise we could plan for them and they would not be surprises when they happen.

Our series on Paul and his letters happened almost by chance but it has shown that Paul made long term plans but responded to needs as they arose, even changing his plans overnight, did not let the faithful hold him back but moved on to more receptive situations, relentlessly attacked unfaithfulness, immorality, stubbornness and disunity in the church and always kept Christ at the forefront of his work. Could this be our manifesto for the future.

Ian

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