Happy New Year for 2024
I have just returned from a week in our future retirement home that my husband, Richard, has been project managing over the last two years (a new build in Ravenstonedale in the North Yorkshire moors). It is nearly finished, but we were able to host our New Year gathering for our old gang from University days in Nottingham.
We had pretty atrocious weather, but it allowed me to spend some time praying, reviewing the previous year and seeking God’s direction for the year ahead. Many of you know that a number of us use the Lectio 365 app for our daily times of prayer with God each day. Two key passages captured my imagination as we start to develop the vision for JohnPaul Parish leading up to our away day at Whalley on Saturday 10th February.
- Isaiah 43.19 ‘See I am doing a new thing, do you not perceive it, I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland so that the glory of the Lord will be revealed!’
- Psalm 90.17 ‘May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.’
I have preached recently about the new things that God has been doing in our churches and it is good to thank God for them:
- The re-launch of Connect groups (formerly house groups) this year and the recent launch of one for men on Saturdays.
- The re-launch of both our toddler groups; Toast time on Wednesdays at St P’s and Busy Bees on Fridays at St J’s.
- The launch of the Kintsugi Hope well-being group.
- The re-launch of our Children’s Church with a whole new group of leaders at St John’s.
- The launch of a new family service on Sundays evenings called Families@5.
- The re-launch of our monthly prayer meeting.
- The launch of Baptism workshops for families exploring Baptism.
- The creation of a Ministry team (that helps me to lead the two churches) that meets every two weeks and feeds directly into the PCC.
- And finally, Janet Robinson, Tony Hindle and I have been part of the LYCiG initiative for the last year (Leading Your Church into Growth)
However, the second verse from Psalm 90 seems to be a challenge to ‘establish’ these new things. So, we have been reviewing everything we do, both new and old, to ensure that it keeps in line with the vision that seems to be emerging. But there is more work to be done to establish the teams that support these initiatives and to finance both the work we do and the buildings that house the work we do.
So next year will be a time of consolidation in the following areas.
- As we launch a big fundraising campaign to raise funds for the building work at St John’s mainly.
- As we allow some of our activities to finish and others to be improved or adapted.
- As we continue to develop our leaders and support those considering ordination.
But there are still things that need to happen in the short and medium term;
- especially in the area of our youth
- in healing the wounded history at St John’s
- in developing our worship and prayer ministry in both churches
- in our outreach to the more needy parts of our communities
- and in terms of creating stronger links with our schools.
All this needs to be soaked and sanctified in prayer. Please pray with us and for us as we seek God’s direction over the next few months.
One of the overriding feelings I have had in recent months is a sense of excitement and hope for the future. While still being conscious that we need to go at the right pace that ensures we don’t all burn out. We are part of building God’s kingdom here in Accrington; this is so much more than transformed churches, this is about changing the atmosphere of the whole community: work places, schools, places of leisure. I hope you believe that is a goal worth working towards.
May God bless you in the year ahead,