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Notes on Wantage "Awayday@Home"

Our "awayday" occurred on our own premises last Saturday 20th January.

About fifty of us gathered and had a good day sharing together our hopes and dreams about the future of Wantage Methodists.

We started with a short act of worship in the Chapel. In Isaiah 43 we read: "Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over days gone by. I am about to do something new...." This was very much the bidding of the day. We sang hymns 409 (Let us build a house where .....All are welcome ) 660 (Called by Christ to be disciples every day in every place) and 658 (A charge to keep I have; a God to glorify) and shared time in prayer.

Then we reflected in small groups on what we valued about Wantage as a church community. What were the strengths of the church? Entitled "What's in the pot?" it was a chance to reflect on the positive things about our church. Individually we put on a card what we saw as the good things and we put these "in the pot".

After refreshment we resumed in the hall. Now we considered what we would write on a postcard to friends or family who had moved away in about 3 years' time about positive changes to us in Wantage. What were our dreams of what good things could happen in the next few years?

This was a chance to reflect on what we should be doing in the near future. Each of us wrote our own postcard and these were gathered together.

Thanks are due to the team that prepared a simple but wholesome lunch for us all of soup, bread, cheese and fruit. There was even a box of chocolates!!

Lunch complete and the adults reassembled in the Chapel for a final session.

Now we were reminded of some questions to ponder:
What are our priorities?
What should we maintain?
What do we do better than others?
What could we be a centre of excellence for?
What new things should be doing?
What should we stop doing?
What does it mean to be the Church in the world today?

Next we were reminded of five characteristics of fruitful congregations:
Welcoming / hospitality / caring
Responsive and actively inclusive
Intentional spiritual development
Participatory and collaborative leadership
Enabling change — removing barriers

Then we reflected on these together again in small groups and comments were gathered on a flipchart.

Meanwhile the children had their own activity with Rosemary Perrow and two other friends from Abingdon where they built a house with different rooms with notes on the walls reflecting good and not so good things about church as they saw it. This was presented at the end of the afternoon and remained in the chapel for Sunday.

Keith and the stewards will be reviewing the input of the day and will be sharing this in due course.

Thank you to all who contributed in any way to a useful and, we hope, stimulating day.

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