The Rectory - January 2004
Fran joins me in wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. We are looking forward to many things in the coming year and are very thankful for so much friendship and support that has been freely offered over the past year that has been eventful, to say the least! Wherever one looks – at international affairs, at the life of the Church worldwide, within our city, parish and our own family life. – it has been eventful.
The eternal cycle of life and death has affected us personally, with the birth of our first grandchild, Isaac, and the death of Fran’s father towards the end of the year. Our children have all taken significant steps forward – Lucy as a parent, Liz, Tom and Joe as they have coped with differing fortunes at the end of their time at university, and Ben starting out on that road (after a period lending his hands to the coffee room!).
In the midst of all this the life of the parish has continued to develop in both positive and less positive ways. It is always sad to lose people for whatever reason – and the deaths of Pat Gale in the summer and of Mike Rossiter just before Christmas were especially sad for us as a community – but we also regularly see new people arrive – both tiny ones, as in Baptism, of which there have been an unusually high number – but also adults as well. So losing the Teague family has been balanced by a number of new faces (and older faces welcomed back) in the choir and the arrival of Philip Collin as Director of Music, and what a gain he is for our worshipping life! And we have been much enriched by having Mpume Mbonambi with us from Durban.
We have continued to engage actively with issues at all levels of the community, (and the City Debate with Frank Field MP on 15 January will further this), and with the developments planned for the structures of church life in the city. This has been very energising, and also time consuming. So the long awaited arrival of Chrissie Little, as our Associate Rector will be ever so welcome! There is an invitation to you all to attend her licensing on 31 January elsewhere in the magazine. But Chrissie brings considerable experience of urban ministry in South East London, and I am looking forward so much to her starting, and to learning from what she will bring.
By the time you read this, however, many of you will have discovered that the theme of change, which I have been talking about at boringly regular intervals, is by no means over. In another place again you will find, if you have not yet seen it, a copy of a joint statement from our PCC and the St Mary’s PCC about explorations that are now actively under way with regard to the future relationship between our two parishes. This is not sudden, in the sense that our Deanery, in consultation with the senior staff of the Diocese, has been developing a strategy for building the mission of the church in this rapidly changing city, for over eighteen months. It is quite clear that to be an effective body in the future many things must change. We have got to be much more outward-looking, we have got to develop a common commitment to mission not just with other Anglican parishes but also with our ecumenical partners, and we have got to be realistic about the fewer clergy available generally. St Peter’s has been enormously privileged for many years in being a one church parish with two full-time stipendiary clergy, and the additional services of the Commercial Chaplain. St Mary’s and St Nic’s have also both had two clergy, whilst other churches in the Deanery have struggled to sustain one priest. At the same time there has been an increasingly felt need for a senior member of the hierarchy of the Diocese to be based in Nottingham and to give strategic leadership across the whole city, and the incumbent of St Mary’s, in the future, with a position such as Archdeacon or Suffragan Bishop could offer that role.
All this is in its first stages of exploration. We need everyone to engage in the conversations, and as always, I appeal to you to think about your response, and to offer constructive comments. Of course, there is, potentially, some loss in it for our parish, but in the longer term there is enormous potential for the life of the church in the city as a whole.
As the New Year begins, we will be really engaging with some key issues for Church and City, and I hope you feel as excited by this as I do.