“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-9
One of the privileges of being Superintendent is the Superintendents Retreat. In May I went to Oxford and the question was asked: “what is the Bible passage that sums up your current ministry?” The above was my answer.
As we enter a new year let us look at what God is doing. A small flavour of what is doing is seen in our Circuit through a newly appointed Family Outreach Worker in St. Julian’s/Trinity; A new house-group developed out of an Alpha Course in Chepstow and youth engagement through Mission Academy in Monmouth.
This coming year offers yet more opportunities. We have the Reverend Rachel Frank sweeping into Chepstow with fresh ideas and perspectives. We are seeking to employ a Mission Developer in the Risca area; we have new leaders in children and youth work in Shaftesbury and Bishpool; we have a new Circuit Steward in Cliff Randall and we have two trainee Local Preachers who will be, God willing, fully accredited and another 6 in training. Let us praise God for his work amongst us.
For this coming year can I highlight two items for consideration.
The first is upcoming discussion on Marriage and Relationships. Conference is asking for consultation at a local Church and Circuit level. How this process is to be unfolded will be revealed at Synod on September 14th and the Circuit Leadership Team [CLT] will get the information out. This could be, for some, a difficult discussion and my prayer is that we can gracefully embark on the exercise placed before us.
The second is Invitation and Testimony. Following on from the 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations we embark on ‘Radical Hospitality’ and ‘Passionate Worship’. Good hospitality focuses the mind and I hope we can make this coming year a ‘Year of Invitation’; a year in which each local Chapel/Church finds ways of encouraging each person to invite someone to Church. A survey from the Evangelical Alliance suggests that 3,000,000 people in Britain would consider going to Church is invited…..and a ‘Year of Testimony’. 3 Generate, which is the young people’s movement in the Methodist Church were asked what they wanted more of in Worship and they said; ‘Testimony’. They want to hear of authentic faith through the stories of Christians. We hope, as a CLT, to arrange some training this autumn as we are especially aware that Christmas often offers a good opportunity for invitation.
Finally: My degree is in history. I love the past and what it teaches us. In studying the past we can discern the present and shape the future. We do not dwell on the past, we learn from it and by keeping our eyes fixed on the great ‘I AM’; the Lord Jesus Christ, we can follow his way through the wilderness and be blessed in the stream of rich blessing God has for us all.