In our Annual Parish Meeting of March 2017, Revd Tim Carter delivered this vision.
Here are some highlights:
I’ve shared this image with you before. It formed the heart of my sermon when I came to interview here, and I showed it at the service at the beginning of the year when I was talking about the vision for the parish. It represents a meal at Bethany, with Jesus in the centre, and Mary, Martha and Lazarus relating to Jesus in worship, service and friendship. This remains as something I see as important, that we are a church thatworships, that serves and that lives in friendship with Jesus at the centre.
This was drawn by Hope Gwilliam some time ago. I saw the original in Susie’s office a little while ago and it just struck me. I love the sense of God pouring treasure into All Saints. It reminds me of the verse in Malachi in which God says,
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
For me it also links in to a picture that was given at a Sunday morning service a couple of months ago, of people at All Saints going out of church with gold dust on them, scattering gold as they go out into the community. You see the gold and jewels that God is pouring into the church are spilling out of the windows to the community.
For me there is also something of the city on a hill that cannot be hidden about this, the glow from tower a kind of lighthouse to the world.
As I’ve been thinking and praying about this parish since I got here, the idea of a Strawberry plant has kept coming to me. Strawberry plants don’t get very big, but they are very good at reproducing. They do this by sending out runners on which grow new strawberry plants. The new plants share the same DNA as the original plant, and as long as they stay attached they draw resources from the original plant. When they are mature and ready to be fruitful they can be detached.
It seems to me that the parish, with its different congregations looks a bit like a strawberry plant. The congregations share the same DNA, the same core values of being called to be closer to Christ and sent to be closer to others. The younger congregations still draw resources from the more established congregations. Some of the newer ones are beginning to bear fruit.
I am left wondering whether this is going to be a model for how the church in this parish is going to grow in the future. Maybe the central plant will never grow beyond a certain size, but the church can continue to grow by developing new off shoots – not perhaps as prolifically as a strawberry plant, but over a period of years.
For the remainder of the statement, please see the link above.