Spring Encouragements

At our last Synod meeting, I proposed that there should be greater collaboration and communication between the parishes of our deanery, and indicated that one way of achieving this would be better use of this blog post.  Time has passed since then, but with the signs of new life all around us, it seems a good time for this particular ministry to start sprouting…

I thought we could start with a little sharing of good news stories – how the churches in our deanery are Living God’s Love in different ways, engaging with their communities, using and supporting their buildings and generally being salt and light in the world.  What follows is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I trust it shows some of the variety of life which is present across the deanery.

The Beane Valley Benefice is celebrating with Watton at Stone Church which is now open for visitors daily having been closed for years.  The churches are also supporting a collection organised by a local builder for victims of the war in Ukraine.  In related news, Revd Sally from Hertford Heath will be leading prayers for Ukraine at a gathering in Parliament Square, Hertford on Wednesday this week.

Holy Trinity Bengeo hosted one of the services for the World Day of Prayer last Friday, with this year’s prayer focus being for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Christ Church Ware recently held an “Away Day” with studies in the Book of Ruth, and St Mary’s Ware, following our own deanery’s presentation on the need to be kind to the environment have just completed an initial eco-audit with material provided by Christian conservation charity, A Rocha.

Great Amwell, St Margarets and Stanstead Abbotts have just launched a new magazine across the three villages in collaboration with the Parish Councils, St Andrews Hertford are hosting Fairport Convention in May as one of their “Big Gigs”, and in my benefice, we’ve just started a new Christianity Explored discussion series for those who are either curious about the Christian faith or considering confirmation.

There are plenty of other things going on in the deanery – far too many to write here, but these are written that you may see something of the life and variety in our churches.  Could you write a brief report of something your church is doing so that others can be encouraged?  Please get in touch…

Finally, the Synod Papers for our next meeting are now available on the website for members (simply log in to access them).  I look forward to seeing some of you there!

May God bless you all,

Revd Mark Dunstan

The Baptist and the Martyr

Reflection, Business & Upcoming events…

Reflection

What do you do when the nearest weekend to your Patronal Festival is also the nearest weekend to the annual Diocesan celebrations – when all across the Diocese, people are talking about St Alban (feast day 22nd June) and you feel the responsibility of doing something special for your church, marking the feast of St John the Baptist (24th June)?

It’s tricky. If your corporate energies are limited so you are unable to do both, do you plump for undertaking something local because you see your mission as primarily to the people God has chosen to give you as neighbours and friends, or do you take advantage of the rare opportunity to rejoice with brothers and sisters in the fellowship that comes by virtue of being part of a far bigger church?

Whether your church is dedicated to the Baptist or not, we all have choices to make as to how much we work our own patch and how much we come together with other workers for mutual encouragement in our common task. My guess would be that we’re all more conditioned to the former, and that under the pressure of trying to keep everything going in our own churches, the latter may well feel like a luxury we can ill afford.

Our Deanery Mission Action Plan has been written with the local mission of each parish at its heart – we want our churches to be flourishing Christ-centred communities, not floundering centrally-controlled meetings. Fundamentally, it is a plan through which the resources of the wider church can be harnessed to facilitate mission in our geographical parishes and other relational networks. It’s about churches being informed about the plans their neighbouring churches have drawn up and being prepared to help one another so that Jesus’ mission goes forward everywhere.

So Baptist or Martyr? Clearly both … We obviously have to engage with things that connect with the people in our community, but we would also do well to nurture relationships with our wider family, which is both a source of comfort and support to us and a rich context into which we can minister by offering our experience, gifts and talents.

Business

The draft minutes from our last Synod meeting have been circulated and are also posted in the members area of the site. The most recent meeting of the Standing/Pastoral Committee had to be cancelled, but the key agenda issues are still being addressed.

I would ask you to take note of the Diocesan Parish Share reports (related to our MAP Goal 1.1) – these indicate that a number of parishes are behind with their Share payments. Please encourage your PCCs to pay in full and on time and to ask for help early if this is not possible.

Upcoming Events

The Synod social for all who have booked tickets is this Wednesday, 10th July. Information has been circulated to all attendees. The clergy Chapter is meeting on 25th July to consider our Deanery’s response to the rising problem of homelessness.

Members might also be interested to know that there are some more dates on the calendar – notably a training session on using Social Media and other Digital Communication technology (Get Your Church Social-Media-Savvy, 18th July) and, if you’re a lover of popular music and fancy an evening’s entertainment, a concert in Wareside, put on by the Assistant Rural Dean and his band (#vicargig 21st July).

Do share your events and let us know if there are ways the Deanery can help your parish, whether through training or other support…