Thursday, 27 May 2010

Oadby appoints new Parochial Church Council

The Parish of Oadby has elected a new Parochial Church Council to guide and supervise the ministry and mission of the Parish. Church goers from both St Peter’s and St Paul’s were elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting held on the 22nd April 2010. The Council is made up of 25 people of a variety of ages and experience from both churches.
The Council oversees the two churches as they work together to build the Kingdom of God in Oadby. It is focused on mission and how the churches can act together to help bring people to Christ in the local area. It also works towards deepening the discipleship of those people who already attend our churches.

Each PCC meeting starts with some bible study and prayers. The meetings follow a friendly and open format where participation is encouraged from all members. Fellowship and patience abound thanks to the sharing of one common goal, building a church for Christ in Oadby. If you feel called to join in, to act on behalf of Christ and to shape the future of your church then prayerfully consider standing for election at the next Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

Dr David Boyce

Monday, 17 May 2010

Hope for the Church at The Hayes

Monday 12 May saw four of us set off for four days at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire. For those of us who remembered such conference centres as bleak and cold with food like school meals, it was a very pleasant surprise. Our purpose was to join groups of Christians from other churches around Leicestershire and to discover what God may have to teach us about how we may draw others to Christ and how the church might grow.

We were led by a Vicar from Bradford, Robin Gamble, assisted by Dave Banbury, two proud Northerners and Janet Russell from the diocese of Oxford, supported by Stuart Burns and Barry Hill from our own diocese. They kept us hard at work from 8.0am until 10.0pm most days.

We met in the main conference hall in groups of Mission Partnerships, each around a table. We are from the Gartree Mission Partnership -- parishes southeast of Leicester. As we were a large group and the number from St. Paul's was large, we did much of the work as a subgroup. The course was a mixture of presentation by the leaders of the present position and possible ideas for improvement, which were rooted in their experience, and strategies for change. Then there would be discussion of those ideas within the group and opportunities to feedback to the full conference. It was important that valuable ideas did not get lost so each group had a large poster on which they wrote their ideas after each session.

One of many concerns was the feeling that churches were good at "presence" - being in and around the local community. However, it was felt that this often had little content of "proclamation" -- letting those around us know what it was that we believed. It was suggested that if we did, there would be opportunities for "persuasion" -- the possibility of talking at greater length about faith in Christ. (Persuasion is probably a bad word for something like an Alpha course but at least it begins with P to match the others!). One night, Robin Gamble memorably showed how he would use a Quiz Night to include a brief and entertaining "God Slot."

We were encouraged to start modestly -- did we believe God could grow our church by 5%? We return committed to seeking to achieve that aim.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Freeuse for Leicester and Leicestershire

Recycling often means disposing of goods in a way that their components can be processed for remanufacture. That's a good thing to do and at St Paul's we certainly support the extensive recycling service operated by Oadby and Wigston Borough Council. Everything from paper to empty bottles of communion wine is disposed of in the most eco-friendly way we can find.

But just recently I came across a new initiative. Freeuse for Leicester and Leicestershire is a simple way of arranging for unwanted items to be collected by people who want to use them as they are. I advertised a tatty but working filing cabinet and it was gone in hours. I'll certainly be using it again.

Time-shift worship?

At St Paul's we try to make our worship accessible and relevant. We want to make sure that everyone who worships with us feels welcome and is able to participate. We're careful to use language that's not impenetrable, keeping the Christian jargon that sometimes baffles newcomers to a minimum. We laugh, we sing, we honour God with reverence but also with a generous informality.

So what's a church like St Paul's doing planning a service using the Book of Common Prayer?

Most of our regular congregation has never used the "prayer book" for worship. It's unfamiliar and because of its seventeenth-century language, it's not easy. But sometimes things that are difficult are good for us.

We're going to use the Book of Common Prayer for a one-off communion service on Trinity Sunday, 30 May 2010. We'll be singing contemporary worship songs and we won't be dressing up in historic costumes. But we'll offer God our praise and prayers using the liturgy of this work of reformed theology from an era of political controversy. What will we discover? Come along and see for yourself.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Christian Aid Week - 9-15 May 2010

Christian Aid Week isn't just one of those awareness-raising contrivances in the calendar (it's always Something-Or-Other Week). It's a practical way to change lives.

The slogan of Christian Aid is "Poverty - let's end it". That may be an ambitious goal but it's realisable, at least in the lives of those who are served through this fine charity's work. Generous contributions during this campaign will end poverty - if not for the whole world then at least for someone, somewhere.

Every envelope returned with a gift of money, every sponsored walk and every sale of goods makes a difference. Thank you for playing your part.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Churchgoing in the UK

At last week's District Church Council meeting, we looked at the findings of Tearfund, who researched patterns of churchgoing in the UK.

Those of us who belong to a leadership group like the DCC are naturally quite regular in our church attendance. This might make it harder to see things as they really are. Gaining a proper perspective on the patterns of attendance across the country is vital, so research like this is incredibly valuable.

At St Paul's we aim to offer a genuine welcome to everyone, no matter what their previous experience of church. We aspire to be an open community, where the gospel is preached and lived in a way that includes those on the edge of church.

Tearfund have made their excellent report available online. But here's what their data looks like represented graphically. Use the navigation buttons to view the animation.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Voting begins for the 2010 General Election

The polls for the General Election opened at 7.00am this morning and there was already a queue at St Paul's before the seals of the ballot boxes were removed. It's very early but turnout is expected to be higher than recent elections.

This must be a welcome development for everyone who is interested in seeing wider participation in the democratic process. Whatever our political views, whatever we feel about the problems that have beset parliament over the expenses controversy, this election will be positive if the tide of cynicism about politics recedes a little.

As for us at St Paul's, we welcome the fact that through our buildings we play a very small part in this process. Over the next fourteen hours, hundreds of people will step into the Barnabas Centre to cast their vote. We've done our best to make it a place of welcome, with displays of the regular activities that take place here, and pictures done by children of the church. After voting at 7.00am, I picked up litter and made tea for the party workers compiling their returns. We chatted together and celebrated our differences, remembering that in many parts of the world the hostility between political factions makes elections a dangerous time. There is much to be thankful for so don't waste the privilege nor neglect the responsibility of your vote.