On Saturday 25th January we are had an ‘away day’ at Newburn Parish Centre. This was an exciting opportunity (though a little scary) to gather and begin to seek out where God maybe calling us to serve him in our community. Our diocesan facilitators, Alison Moore and Fr Kyle McNeil ably led and encouraged us through the day. We were also very pleased some of our good friends from Holy Trinity, Swalwell came along.
Over the day, we considered things we had learned about ourselves over the last year of our membership of Partnership in Missional Church, and touched upon what God might be calling us to undertake as a missional challenge during the next year.
You may recall, PMC lasts for three years and is a major commitment for the Steering Group, PCC and all in our Church. Anyone is welcome to get involved, you can drop in to a 'Cluster Meeting' and see what's going on (just ask Barry). The process of exploration and learning with other parishes is new, challenging and frustrating at times, but as we are finding out, delivers results. It is also a place to pray, worship and grow.
Of course, you already are aware of PMC, and have been involved. For example we enjoyed being part of the 'Timeline' looking at the history of St Mary's, the telling of personal stories of happy occasions or perhaps difficult areas of loss or conflict; all with an intent to build a positive view for the future. You also attended the 'Congregational Event' at the end of October, where we shared stories and memories, concerns and hopes. We held twenty two interviews with members of the church. Specific questions were asked about how they saw the church, what it means to them and what the future might hold.
Three years is along time, but time is needed to help us change the way we think about engaging with God's mission. Part of that is to understand that there are no quick answers. What we are finding is that discerning God's will is to be taken slowly and not just arrived at by one or two people. PMC invites all of us to be part, this hopefully means you! Being part though, will be a little risky, even scary... new things to try, some things to be let go. PMC offers an exciting and creative opportunity to open up to God's will afresh.
Our PCC Away Day shows this to be true. We found we can handle and discuss big issues. We were tasked with putting forward 7-10 issues/ideas/themes we thought God may be asking us to consider. It felt a heavy responsibility, but we soon found areas of commonality in our thoughts, not least around communication, families, children and youth.
As a result the Steering Group will meet again and decide the next step in discernment, which will probably bring us back together so that we can pray further and reflect upon where God may be leading us to.
Please pray for the Steering Group and all involved in PMC, as I said that could be you! Best wishes Jill.