News and Events
The important news from each of our churches appears here. The most recent article is below and links to the others can be found in the right-hand menu.By Glynis Simons on 25-Jan-13 12:06
TEAM TALK JANUARY 2013
An ad-hoc newsletter of
The Marlow Area Team Ministry
serving the communities of
Great Marlow, Marlow Bottom,
Little Marlow, Bisham and Encounter
Welcome to the first Team Talk of 2013! It promises to be an exciting year for our Team and I hope you enjoy reading about some of what is being planned. Thank you for the wonderful welcome you have given me and my family to this parish. I look forward eagerly to serving alongside my gifted colleagues in the year that lies ahead.
In this edition:
Making Disciples who make disciples
What on earth do you clergy get up to all day ... ?
PCC / Leadership Team progress
Recent news around the districts
What is @10.45
That's Convenient! Coming soon: a cloakroom at Bisham
New Headteacher at Little Marlow
A significant birthday – now with two “0”.s
Making disciples who make disciples
As you may be aware one of my areas of responsibility across the team is to promote discipleship. For me discipleship is about encouraging each of us as we grow in following Jesus, deepening our relationship with him and work out how this affects our lives - not just on Sundays but 24/7. So it might include learning more about our faith, discussing how it applies to issues we face in our society, community and personal lives, developing our prayer life and finding ways to enable us to engage more with the bible. Lots of exciting stuff and I am looking forward to working creatively with you all as we travel on this road together.
I remember saying in my interview that I felt one of the best ways of encouraging this discipleship was through meeting in small groups as I felt these gave people the opportunity to develop relationships and share openly their struggles and questions and joys as they study the bible and pray together, encouraging and learning from each other. I know a lot of people have been asking about the possibility of starting some small groups. Others have been keen to have some form of course to help them in their faith and we have a number of people wanting to prepare for adult baptism and/or confirmation (an opportunity for those baptised as children to affirm for themselves the promises made on their behalf and to confirm their membership of the church; also traditionally the point at which people start taking Holy Communion).
With these two things in mind we are holding a discipleship course starting 31st January and running up to Easter. The idea is that it will bring together people at any stage of the Christian journey and challenge and encourage us all as we explore some of the fundamentals of our faith. Some of the material will be presented from the front but there will be lots of activities and time for discussion in smaller groups. People will be grouped according to the church they belong to in order to build relationships. After the course finishes these groups will have the option of continuing to meet separately for those who would like to.
I am really excited about this course, not just because we will be meeting in the comfortable environment of upstairs at Costa Coffee! It will be a great opportunity to bring people together from across the team and explore our faith with each other. I hope it will prove a significant step in our team life and individual lives as we work out what it means to be followers of Jesus. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up, we would love you to join us - see leaflets and website for further details and talk to Dave or me for more information.
PS. Some people have asked if it is OK to only attend part of the course because of holidays etc. This is fine but it would be helpful to know in advance when you will be there. However if you are wishing to be baptised or confirmed we would expect you to be there for the majority of the sessions.
“But what do you actually do?”
Being a vicar is a funny job. It’s a very public role, but most of it is invisible. So it’s hardly surprising that the question gets asked again and again: “what do you actually do?” Of course there isn’t a single answer – every vicar does their job differently and rightly so.
But as a rule we vicars are not very good at even attempting an answer. We can tend to hide in our studies, or in vaguely described ‘other pressing commitments’. It’s no surprise then, that in this vacuum a number of caricatures have grown up: the lazy, bumbling vicar (“six days invisible and one day incomprehensible” ); the hyperactive, stressed-out vicar and so on. I’ve discovered that, whether they go to church or not, almost everyone has their own idea about ‘what a proper vicar should do’!
So, safe in the knowledge that everyone will disagree with some of my priorities, here is an attempt to be more open and transparent about what exactly it is that I spend my time doing. Come with me and take a quick peek into my work diary and priorities over a typical month…
As a vicar, if you lose your faith you’ve lost everything. The first thing in my diary, therefore, is a quiet day every month. It’s not easy to pray for a whole day, but I’m always glad I’ve done it because through it God inspires me for the month ahead. On top of this, I have several other people or groups with whom I pray periodically to help me sustain my faith. Without them to fan my faith into flame, it would have died down to glowing embers years ago.
After prayer, the team of clergy, staff and other leaders is my first priority. We meet as a group every Wednesday morning, and on average I spend about 8 more hours every week meeting individually with colleagues, wardens and leaders of other teams across the parish. There are also lots of one-off requests for meetings – people wanting to explore their faith, suggest new initiatives, complain about something that’s gone wrong, or perhaps to pray or talk over a difficult situation or decision. You never know what a week will bring!
Every week seems to contain a Sunday and so preparing services and sermons takes up a chunk of time each week. I’m often asked how long a sermon takes to prepare – it varies enormously from between 2 hours to a whole day, usually in more than one sitting. The frustrating bit is that you don’t know in advance how long it will take!
Almost every week involves meeting people and preparing for baptisms, weddings, funerals or pastoral visits. Our church schools also appear very regularly in the diary: meeting with Head teachers, taking assemblies and RE classes, Governor duties, helping with staff training and even praying for a skeleton that was being moved out of a science department (don’t ask!).
Being ‘leader of leaders’ in the parish means chairing the PCC and its standing committee (which we call ‘The Leadership Team’) and leading the development of the vision for our churches. This has taken a lot of time in the past month as we have worked on our vision for the coming year. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming months.
Connecting with the wider community and with other churches is another part of the job I really enjoy. I meet fairly frequently with members of the Town Council and other civic figures. The Churches Together in Marlow leaders meet monthly, and there are meetings with Deanery (local Anglican churches) and other churches.
As Rector of the parish I’m trustee of 16 different trusts, most of them benefit the poor or our schools. Some months these lie dormant, but over the last month there has been on average one meeting a week.
Like most other jobs nowadays, there is a lot of administration involved in being a vicar. Answering emails and letters, planning meetings, working out the clergy rota for Sunday services, writing up notes and reading papers – all these activities take as long as I give them and I sometimes struggle to stay on top of the seemingly endless flood. I’m learning that one of the tricks to this job is to be able to say ‘enough!’ and trust everything that has (and hasn’t) been done to God.
PCC / Team update- What are we doing?
In the March 2012 edition of Team Talk, we summarised a few strands of what the PCC thought that God might be up to in our Team Ministry. Many of the answers centred on leading us forward – words and phrases like partnership, hope, growing, outward focus, signs of life, leadership, stronger bonds, empowering, excitement were characteristic of the sense of anticipation.
In October, the Leadership Team (wardens and clergy) spent time in fellowship and prayer, considering how to allow these sentiments begin to take shape. In doing so, we began to shape the kind of headline that will unite us, excite us, stimulate us, define us and focus our shared life and work on the question of what God is doing – and therefore also what he is not doing – and calling us to get caught up in the slipstream of the direction he is taking us.
During the coming months in the lead up to our APCM, our Parish Church Council and each District Church Council will be chewing on this headline statement and prayerfully discussing how we turn a set of words into actions that embody the sense of excitement, anticipation, vision, focus that marked the early part of 2012.
Each of our District Annual meetings will be shaped by this forward looking focus (as well as reporting on the past year) and during this time we commend all our church members and TeamTalk readers to prayerfully consider what this headline will mean for each church and each of us individually as we unite under the banner of that most excellent definition of what it means for the church to get to work:
“Finding out what God is doing: and joining in”.
Our headline is as simple as it is appealing and challenging:
Ordinary people loved by an extraordinary God,
Welcoming: Serving: Growing
Around the Parish:
1) What is @10:45 in All Saints Marlow?
In mid September, All Saints Marlow began a trial of a new pattern of worship. Dave and I had both responded to God's call to Marlow, to grow the church's engagement with young families. Alongside this, and building on the work of TGIS, Encounter and the 9.30 “Informal service”, a growing number of us recognised the convoluted route to worship we were offering new families and children.
We take it for granted that most churches offer a “same place, same time, same feel, same people” picture of a worshipping community. Creating this same provision for the young families that All Saints has longed to serve better looked like it would need drastic action.
Remarkably, creating the “formula”, and the beginnings of a new team for this new service, wasn't as painful as some of us feared. Building on the existing contemporary worship offerings has meant that most of those already “doing things” have embraced “the new thing”.
Keeping a simple pattern of service content – contemporary worship songs, prayer and focussed Bible teaching, a clear lead with a light touch – has helped to present worship as simple and accessible.
Not that getting there wasn't complicated and occasionally creaking at the seams, but a generosity of spirit and a gracious “no pain, no gain” attitude has allowed us to begin to build a worshipping community who can worship weekly at the same place and same time.
All Saints Marlow @10.45, is now fast evolving into a new community with weekly provision for children at its heart through the dedication of a newly formed team of workers and the growing worship band, prayer ministry team, welcome and hospitality team.
@10.45 started as a trial in September and, alongside the changes to the 8am and (was 9.30) 9am services, is currently under review through a church-wide questionnaire. The numbers at worship each week have been promising – regularly 50-60 adults and up to 25 children attend, a good number of whom were not previously church goers. Best thing for me? Those seeking a contemporary form of worship are offered the same privilege as our other congregations: “same place, same time, same feel, same people” – each week.
2) Bisham Cloakroom Project
As you may be aware All Saint’s, Bisham is the only church in our team not to have toilet facilities which are expected in our modern times. It is particularly a problem at funerals and weddings as well as Sundays and limits how we can use the building for community and outreach events. Amending this situation has been on the agenda for many years but a solution has been difficult to find with the difficulties of a historic building (practicalities as well as preservation), graveyard and drainage. But finally an end is in sight! Having exhausted all other possibilities a proposal to build a separate building on the site of the existing compost heap has been approved by planning authorities, English Heritage and the DAC. Not only this, but HMRC have granted zero-rating for VAT due to community benefit and disabled access.
So all that remains is for the necessary money to be raised. These sorts of project are never cheap and the total cost based on current quotes is £33,000. However about half of this is already raised and applications for lottery funding etc. are being made. But donations are still gratefully received! This is an opportunity to be part of something historic as it will be the first time new building has occurred at the church for hundreds of years.
More information can be obtained from Robert Frost and David Pascall to whom I am very grateful for overseeing the project and fundraising respectively.
3) New Head Teacher at Little Marlow
Suzanne Best (previously a teacher at Sandygate School) started work as Head Teacher at Little Marlow School in the New Year. She was appointed in September but was on maternity leave until January. However she did attend the school’s nativity plays in Church and read one of the Lessons in Little Marlow’s Carol service, accompanied by her baby son who decided to wake up just before she was going to read! Suzanne is very keen to explore how we can build the relationship between the school and the Church and Sarah and she are meeting soon to discuss this. We are really looking forward to this new phase of co-operation in the life of school and church and wish Suzanne every best wish for her new post.
4) Now that doesn't happen very often!
On 25th November 2012, St Mary's celebrated a priceless event. Our churchwarden, Duncan had recently celebrated “a significant birthday”– you know, one of those birthdays with a zero involved (with no mention of which number precedes the zero).
However, a much rarer delight is to celebrate a “significant birthday” with two zeros. So great anticipation was in the air in the run up to Anne Ayles's 100th birthday (24th November) which we were privileged to share as a church community on the following day.
With Anne’s characteristic humility, the event was marked in as low key a way as the occasion would allow (the Queen didn’t turn up – just sent a card). Since I’m often reminded that I’m a new kid on the block, with a long wait for my telegram from Her Maj, it’s been great to get to know a little about Anne’s long, energised and energising faith-filled life. We pray for Anne as she continues to inspire us in her life amongst us. Here’s looking forward to 101 and more!