“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Could you describe our church’s last year in one word? How about ‘family’? After a madcap 2014-15 where our new church helped us to reach the wider community in new ways, the last twelve months have seen us focus on deepening our church family. We’ve explored our identity as God’s people (discipleship), how we look after one another (pastoral care) and having more fun together (socials).
It’s been a growing family too, welcoming a number of new church members, including the Parton family, and especially the joy of having Michelle as our new curate. We’ve also seen more baptisms, more people coming to us at festival times and seekers finding faith through the Alpha course.
In many ways the vision of the last few years has come to pass – we’ve remained a family which loves Jesus, but we have flung our doors open wider as more from our community see us, connect with us and encounter Christ among us.
So what next?
We believe God is calling us to go deeper and think longer term, so one of our mission targets for this year is to set a 3-5 year Vision plan. And we believe our other two new targets – “Reaching Families” and “Social Action” – will feature heavily in that vision.
As the Parish Church, St Mary’s is there for everyone, and lots of our growth over the last two years has been among those in middle and more advanced years. Long may that continue! However, whether it’s our long term investment in Youth and Children’s work (headed up by Dean and Ria) or our being placed at The Coppice school, we believe now is the time to focus especially on reaching families more effectively.
How about being a church which speaks a word to the busy, often fragmented and sometimes antagonistic younger generations of the love of Jesus that many have never encountered? Making Christ – the bringer of peace, hope and joy – understood; the re-enchantment of an increasingly secular world. Let’s be a part of that movement at St Mary’s!
Alongside this we are beginning to understand more deeply the power of doing good. From the community refugee collection, to the winter night shelter, to our growing work among elderly people, we are starting to identify and respond to local, regional and international need.
A recent survey suggests that Wythall people expect Christians to take a lead in social action. So let’s make that one of our aims in 2016 – to take Jesus at his word to be salt and light in our local community. We do good works because we’re called to – they’re part of the gospel – but God uses them for more than this. As others see those works they are drawn by the God who inspires them to praise their Father in heaven too.
This year let’s light our light shine!
Rich (Vicar’s Report in our Annual Report 2015-16)