As I am sure you are aware, we have been ‘experimenting’ with a different service pattern at StJ&StP since April ’16. We wanted to do this for several reasons – among them, we planned to build on the strong music traditions we have here with the two 10h30 services, to allow children and youth from the two morning services to come together for their lessons, and to enable us to build fellowship over coffee after the services.
At the outset of this period, we committed ourselves to running it for 7 months, up to the end of 2016, to having a congregational meeting in Nov. ’16, to canvassing people’s views and experiences in a survey, and to bring this all together for the Chaplaincy Council to make a decision on the long-term service pattern at our meeting in Dec. ’16.
So, we have had the congregational meeting, 100 of you filled in the survey, and on Monday, we had the Chaplaincy Council meeting.
Members of the Council have had the chance to look through the survey results, to read the comments that had been made – and so on Monday, we had a robust and open discussion on the service patterns. At the end of the debate, the Council voted to keep the pattern as we have it at the moment – to run two parallel services three Sundays a month at 10h30 (on the 4th Sunday of the month, we will continue to have a service with anointing and prayer for healing in church), to have an evening pattern of three Wellspring services and Choral Evensong (on the 4th Sunday) at 17h00, and for us to have Communion services at 08h30 each Sunday. The one new thing we will introduce is an opportunity for us to worship together on the 5th Sunday of the month. During 2017, there are 5 of these – in January, April, July, October and December. We will aim to make these truly blended services.
The majority of the congregation who took part in the survey wanted the pattern to remain as we have had it for the last 7 months, and now the Chaplaincy Council has voted for this too. It will come into effect from Sun. Jan 8th, 2017.
We are aware that not everyone is in favour of this service pattern – and as a Council, we have re-committed ourselves to taking seriously concerns that have been expressed. The three main concerns that came out of the survey were opportunities to volunteer, concerns about our spiritual growth, and the timing of the end of the services, so that we can really have fellowship together over coffee. We are already working on these and Council will spend the next few weeks going through the comments made in the survey in detail, and at our January meeting, we will look at ways of addressing as many as we can, so that we can continue to bring unity, and move forward together to achieve all that God has in store for us.
We would value your on-going prayers and support through this period – we hope that each of our services continues to grow and develop. Do welcome the new people who have joined us since April – it is lovely to have so many with us.
We look forward to seeing you over the Christmas period.
With every blessing,