Moving on.......

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From the Manse........

Where have the last twelve months gone?

As I write this I am conscious that it is almost a year to the day since we moved into 14 Haywards Close. Reflecting on this, I am reminded how moving home forces you to do many things, not least having a good old clear out!

You will recall from your own experiences wondering if you still want/need those objects that you hold lovingly in your hands ready to cocoon in tissue paper and bubble wrap. Much is rejected and either sent to various charity shops, thrown away or recycled.

Some of what failed to make the journey from Hampshire to Oxfordshire we had out grown. Some we no longer needed or were testament to things that we used to be interested in but no longer were. If we are honest, we even wondered why we had some of it in the first place.

Much of what was transported around the A339 and A34 was of special importance to us — all of it is useful and necessary. There were pictures and photographs, mementos and objects that had sentimental connections — gifts and presents given by family and friends, heirlooms passed down from one generation to another.

Moving home after 10 years made us sort out the important and the valuable from amongst all that had been accumulated so we arrived lighter and leaner — ready for a new beginning and a fresh start.

As in homes, so too in churches.

At this beginning of a new Methodist year I wonder what we need to say goodbye to? What is no longer relevant or necessary, what is holding us back? What is a relic of a bygone era that no longer serves its purpose today? What is taking up so much room, or taking so much of our time, that there is no space or energy left for new things?

In the same way, what is valuable and precious? What do we want and indeed need to hold on to and cherish? What do we lovingly keep from the past, keeping safe to pass on to those who follow? What do we need to preserve to remind us of our roots?

As the people of God, we need to travel light and not get too bogged down and accumulate too much unwanted baggage.

Having a good clear out can seem threatening and a bit scary, the task may seem to be daunting to say the least, but my experience tells me that it can be cathartic and liberating.

At the Circuit Meeting in September, the Circuit Leadership Team will be challenging all of our churches to look closely at what they do, who they are, their priorities and where they see themselves in the next three to five years.

The CLT themselves have already started on that very same process for the Circuit itself with an away day last month at Wantage Convent.

In parallel, the same challenge comes to us from the Methodist Conference who recently encouraged every Church Council to annually address and answer the question 'do you have a growth plan or an end of life plan?'

"What are the challenges and changes facing our community? What is each church and circuit's plan for responding to the urgent call on the Methodist people to share the love of God in Jesus Christ in word and action? How might we listen more carefully to the promptings of the Spirit, day by day?" is what they are asking of us.

These are exciting times in the midst of the challenges of this age.

Let us therefore be bold, imaginative and fearless as we work out what is important and what needs to be let go as we seek to respond to the world in which we live!

With love and God Bless,

Keith

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