Written in a time of great mourning, the book of Lamentations is a passionate and honest poem of sorrow to a God who seems to have forgotten his people. And yet despite the odds, their faith in God’s promises remains and they continue to hope in their return from exile into the promised land.
Those who have been part of St Mary’s in recent years will know the difficulties of holding fast to God’s faithfulness, not least as hopes of a new church building have come and gone. And yet, like the people of Judah, your faith in a God who brings “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” has been undimmed.
As contractors begin work at The Coppice School and we look forward to the opening of the new St Mary’s in 11-12 months, tomorrow’s hope is shining ever more brightly. Now is a time to rejoice in God’s faithfulness over the years and get ready for all that He has for us to do in the next chapter of our life together. In the last year, we have seen God bringing unexpected blessings in other areas too – the healing of a relationship with the British Legion, and an incredible response to our community choir at Christmas. Great thanks must go also to those who have worked tirelessly in sustaining and extending our ministries in a year where relationships with Care Homes and local schools have flourished and new families have joined our growing church. And of course all this is undergirded by prayer, from those who have never given up praying since the close of our old building in 1986 to the dozens who visited our 24:7 prayer room in October and March.
Our annual report is an opportunity to look backwards and review the last twelve months, but also to look forward with expectancy too! This year we adopted the Diocese’s “Transforming Church” programme which encourages us to set annual targets for us all to work towards. We adopted four targets in September, two of which we feel we’ve already met our objectives in (deepening prayer and expanding elderly care) and two remain with the addition of another related explicitly to the new St Mary’s:
• Double the number of families and children involved in our 10.30am Sunday service
• Institute an annual pattern of Christian nurture and discipleship courses
• Prepare for the transition into our new building – through prayer, vision and keeping the community informed
Please join with me in praying and working for God’s Kingdom in our community in what promises to be a very exciting year, using this prayer for growth and every other prayer your soul can muster.
“Father, we pray that you would grow your church of St Mary’s. Grow us in number, in depth of faith, in knowledge and understanding of your love. May we reach out and serve our community in Wythall and Hollywood, and call new disciples to journey with us, in the name of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Rich Burley (from the Vicar’s Report in St Mary’s 2013 Annual Report