A Message from the Superintendent Minister September 17th 2020
As I write we are entering the traditional season of our Harvest Festivals. A time when we particularly give thanks to God for all God's gifts. Traditionally we give thanks for the gifts of the harvests of the farm and the field, but in the city and the suburbs it can sometimes seem as if we are very far removed from these processes – even if we are thankful for the food as it reaches our tables. And in this time of global pandemic we are aware of the impact which the virus has had on the food and farming sector with disruption across the supply chain, concerns over farm labour shortages, enormous price volatility, delays in payments, farmers' health and the wellbeing of the farming workforce. So Harvest this year takes on a slightly different feel and we are reminded, perhaps more acutely than ever, that Harvests are not always as fruitful as we would like and an important part of this season is the recognition that God works in our lives through the things which falter and fail, as well as through the things which are successful.
Harvest is also an opportunity to reflect upon other sorts of God-given gifts which might be more immediate and tangible for us. Things such as our health and accommodation, our families and our relative security; recognising that among us there are some who do not have these things. What about education and transport and employment? Artistry, sport and recreation? These too are things which we work hard to access and to achieve and which sometimes bear fruit yet sometimes are a source of great frustration and sadness for us. We are mindful of the many places in the world which are suffering most acutely the impact of climate change and the associated unstable weather patterns causing fires and floods and untold loss of life and property. We join our prayers with those of our sisters and brothers around the world as we seek answers, may not feel as if we are receiving them, but trust in God nonetheless to bring us through and to use our hands to be a source of blessing to those whose lives have been struck by things too terrible for us to imagine.
In the new United Stockport Circuit we are beginning a process of discernment which we hope will lead to a greater and fuller understanding of the things which God is calling us to grow here in this part of Greater Manchester. What gifts are going unused, where do we need to be placing our energy, what sort of ministries do we need and how can we sustain them, who could we be working with in order to realise our vision? I cannot believe that I have already been here for a year – it seems like just yesterday that I was making the big move from London to the mysterious North! It has proved to be a wonderful move for me (and it's not so mysterious after all!) and I intend to use the time that we have together over the next few years to work with you to begin planting some seeds and continuing to tend to some others which have already been sown, so that we can be clear about the direction we are heading in, clear about our mission and clear about the things which need to happen in order to realise an ongoing harvest of love, justice, compassion, grace and hospitality. For these are the fruits of the Spirit which people in the world today are longing to taste.
In pursuit of this commitment to being an outward looking Circuit, it has been agreed to establish three Task Groups to support and enable our public engagement with issues of justice and peace. The Task Groups will have the following remits, (i) Communications, Social Media, and Campaigns, (ii) becoming an ecologically and environmentally sustainable Circuit and (iii) being a church of the margins (e.g. work with the elderly/those living with dementia, those experiencing exclusion (e.g. homeless, refugees, LGBT+, BAME community) and work with children, younger people, and those of working age)
It is not intended to over prescribe what the task groups will do but rather to encourage a range of things including fun events, fund raising, worship, training, education, information sharing and campaigning. In order to make the task groups a success we need people to join them! If you are interested in being a part of one of the task groups, please come along to find out more on Tuesday 29th September 7pm on Zoom. We are especially interested to hear from people who have not been involved before in leadership in the church. You can join using the following Zoom link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88949265421?pwd=bHl2dXJTbENyeE9URnAra0Q3Z2hCZz09 ID: 889 4926 5421 and Passcode: 264866. Or just speak to me about it.
We may have to face some difficult choices as we move forward, and there may be some things which are beyond our control, but I have such deep faith that if we can work and pull together, less concerned about our own individual places in God's Kingdom and more focussed on revealing that Kingdom of grace to those who are searching for it, then we will see growth in the widest sense of the word and our Harvest will be plentiful!.
And please remember as always:
In this time of isolation and separation may we feel the unity of God's spirit in the bonds of peace and love which connect us to one another.
-When we feel lonely let us know that in Christ we are never alone.
-When we feel isolated may we be reminded that within the worldwide Body of Christ we are always connected.
-When we need a hug help us to feel the warmth of God's embrace
-When we are compelled to keep our distance, may we be drawn close to each other within the Spirit of Companionship that flows from God and which moves through and between each one of us.
With love and blessings,