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Hope for smaller churches10 months ago
This week Christopher Landau responds to smaller churches struggling to recover and rebuild as they navigate this next post-pandemic phase. Christopher shares ReSources heart for little local and ordinary churches.
Behind me is St James Church in Stirchley, a small village now part of Telford in Shropshire. As Wikipedia bluntly puts it, it’s a redundant Anglican church.
It also happens to be my nearest church building to home, now I’ve taken up the role of director of ReSource.
And I’ve been reflecting on what the presence of this redundant church in our community might have to say, as I begin working for a ministry that seeks to bring hope and renewal to what we often call little local and ordinary churches.
These questions seem all the more pertinent and poignant as churches navigate this next phase of the pandemic.
And earlier today I saw a comment on Twitter which was searing in its honesty about all this.
Sheridan James, the Vicar of St Catherine's, Hatcham wrote this:
Well I found that moving – and that post was followed by several telling comments -
Slow recovery is hard - managing so many expectations/decisions – wrote one priest.
Another said, This is awful but God is good. There’s a time for everything (except for pretending to be superhuman).
And then I saw this from the Revd Jody Stowell —
Well reading that I felt I should make a comment here on the ReSource blog. Because one of our distinctive qualities I hope is that we cherish the smaller and medium sized churches found in pretty much every community. And we really want to support those churches as they seek to rebuild in the months ahead.
So in particular I want to mention our Sanctuary Days – when a local church or group of churches invites people from the ReSource team to lead a day that helps members of a particular Christian community come to terms with the last eighteen months or so – and look to the future.
For ReSource this means helping people to pray – to connect more deeply with the presence of God, the living water of the Holy Spirit – in a way that feels appropriate to the tradition of that community, and then also helping them to look outwards in mission, inspired and empowered by the Spirit.
I don’t want increasing numbers of people in this country to find that their nearest church is a redundant church. And I believe a key part of ReSource’s call at this time is to hold out hope for the future of these smaller local churches.
Perhaps holding a Sanctuary Day somewhere in your local community feels like a manageable way of seeking to regather the church, perhaps one Saturday in the new year. Or perhaps you’re a church leader looking for individual prayerful support – in which case you might be interested in our Alongside scheme which launches next month. Do please be in touch – we exist to serve and bless the church as it is – and we’d love to hear from you.
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