The Rector's Link Magazine Article – January 2021

As you pick up this Link parish magazine, the first of 2021, you hold in your hand a view into our community.  There is much to be found in these pages for which I am grateful to all who contribute.  I look forward to reading the new edition.  Despite everything, I wish you joy and peace wherever you may be.  Although disrupted from normal for most of this last year, nevertheless we go from strength to strength in the love of Jesus Christ.

In no part of my ministry over the last 25 years have I ever believed that all I was doing was to try and maintain a diminishing church.  Parish churches can grow and progress.  I worked towards that in my previous parish and I do so here in Haslemere.  Now, I write here at the risk of sounding all a bit puffed-up!  Humility has taught me that where God’s work prospers, it is always through faith and not organisations.  Certainly we need to be well managed, of course, yet this is only to provide a framework for God's people to flourish. 

I wrote in a publication a number of years ago that ‘the extent to which a church reflects its community is the extent to which it is successful.’  I admit that sounds like a lot of management speak, but within it is an important truth.  We are a community of all ages as we are diverse in many ways.  I don't think I've ever seen a parish which successfully accomplishes this ideal, at least not in the modern era.  How can any church reasonably expect to grow if it maintains a narrow focus on worship, ministry and its relationship with the local community?  I'll answer that question for myself - quite simply, they won’t.

Despite the lockdowns and restrictions since I arrived in the parish, I've worked with many to establish and emphasise some important areas of ministry.  I place a very high premium on the need for good pastoral ministry.  Pastoral ministry, otherwise known as sharing the love of God in Jesus Christ, is at the centre of our calling alongside worship and prayer. It is especially important in our ministry towards the elderly and the infirm.  We are blessed with a big and wonderful team, yet I shall not rest upon our laurels.  There is much opportunity to grow and deepen in service to Christ.  I surely intend to encourage many more into such service.

In early December, a new team was established within the church.  This is the Youth Support Team.  The work of this group is to seek and support a new Youth Development Worker for the parish.  As you read this somewhere in late January, the advertisement for the role ought to have been public for a few weeks. You will be able to find details on the parish website.  Youth work is a very important part of the total diversity of our ministry, and how we reflect the spectrum of our community.   I have no idea who God might send!  Do please join me in prayer over this most important work in God's Kingdom.  I hope to be able to tell you more as we move towards springtime.  

This time last year Victoria joined us as our Children and Families Worker.  I'm sure you will agree that we see the hand of God in all she does.  Our longer-term vision as a church is that we will have a fully joined-up ministry from new-borns through to adulthood.  Was that not always the work of the church?  Indeed so, and it shall be again!

Together we grow in faith as we serve God.  There is no closer walk with God than to trust that He will fill you with his Holy Spirit and his gifts or grace as you open yourself to new possibilities in your own Christian lives of service.  

Oh, how I want to extend gods Kingdom in this place, and encourage you all to be a part of that great venture!

Rector Chris