Minister's Monthly Message
This month I thought it would be pertinent to reproduce my report to the Annual Church Meeting which was held on Sunday 28th April:
At the time of writing I have had pastoral oversight at Rustington for five and a half years and I have now been stationed to Hartcliffe, Bristol, from September this year. The Methodist Church here continues to be the church right at the heart of the village community. We are well situated in what used to be predominantly known as a retirement area. Due to housing development and the ensuing increase in population along the South Coast Rustington now has three thriving Primary Schools and several thriving Pre School Groups including our own Rascals Pre School Group. We are able to realise some of the potential in the area with young families attending some of our groups and worship services. We have a very reliable and loyal group of older people in our church who are the foundation of church life. As your minister I take this opportunity to thank everybody who helps in the work of the church in any way. Your help is greatly appreciated.
I follow the same format as in previous years by taking a snapshot look at the church under the four headings given as the reason for our existence in our Mission Statement:
· Worship I am pleased to confirm that the Worship Consultation Meeting has continued to take place quarterly. Out of that meeting have come some interesting conversations about the worship life of the church. In a church community as diverse as Rustington it is inevitable that there will be some tension regarding style and content of worship. Worship Consultation is the means to discuss this in a mutually respectful way along with other worship related matters.
a) Our Sunday Worship Services continue to be diverse with regular use of the projection system at the 10.45am and Sunday Celebration services and an All Age Worship focus when all ages are present.
b) The Sunday Celebration Service is now established on the evening of the fourth Sunday each month wherever possible. This act of worship is less formal than other services and continues to be reasonably well supported. Numbers fluctuate considerably from one month to the next.
c) The Pre School Praise Service twice a term at the 10.45am Shoppers Service continues to flourish. We value this opportunity to share worship with children in a meaningful way for them and for us.
d) The Hand Bell Ringers continue to participate in our main Christian Festival services adding a welcome dimension to our worship.
e) During August last year we held just one morning service at 10.00am. The general consensus is that this was successful and so it was agreed at our last Worship Consultation meeting that this will be repeated again in August this year.
· Learning and Caring Our network of Pastoral Visitors have continued to
exercise mutual support and care under the guidance of Anne Bound and now Mollie Priest. I am grateful for the work Anne has done over several years as Co-ordinator and that Mollie agreed to take over the role from last September. Over the past twelve months we have had a number of Visitors unable to continue so have had to accommodate ongoing changes. We are grateful for all who have served the church in this way and all who continue to do so. A number of new Visitors have been appointed during the year. Our House and Prayer groups, internal and ecumenical, continue to meet regularly and people value the mutual support and spiritual growth that they experience in these groups. The Link magazine continues to be an important link with the church especially for those people who are housebound or resident in a Care Home.
· Service The service ethos at the church continues and the church group reports that follow are testimony to the fact that the church continues to have a heart for the local community and for the world from its base at the heart of the village.
· Evangelism Our evangelism tends to fit the ‘friendship’ model and links with people through weddings, funerals, baptisms and church run or linked groups and friendships made by members of our worshipping community. As a result of contacts made through these means we have sustained our membership over the last twelve months. Five people have attended a recently held Come As You Are Discipleship Course and this has been a time of learning and deepening faith for all of us who have been involved.
The South West Sussex United Area was inaugurated at the beginning of 2010. The provision of ministry in the Area is undertaken by the Area Meeting and the day to day practicalities of working with two denominational structures have become a work in progress. At grass roots level we continue to work more closely with our friends in the United Reformed Church in the Area. At the time of writing the level of ministry cover across the area is being reviewed due to ongoing financial challenges within each of the member churches. The Area will need to make a decision in this regard by the end of this calendar year as consideration is given to replacing the Rev’d Andy Lowe when he moves on in August 2014. Your prayers for those who have responsibility for administering the Area will be much appreciated.
As Janet and I prepare to move on to pastures new in September I recognise that the biggest challenge facing Rustington Methodist Church is that of resourcing its work humanly and financially. Everybody is aware what those challenges are from recent correspondence and articles in the Link magazine. If we are to sustain the good work that the church undertakes we do need considerable commitment in time and money from our members and worshippers.
The Rustington Leadership Team, which represents key areas of church life, has met regularly throughout the last twelve months and this has proved to be a useful way of co-ordinating all the activities of the church. I am grateful to all the team for the fellowship and mutual support that is shared at our meetings. We currently have a Treasurer vacancy and an urgent need for more people to help with the work of Junior Church. In addition it would be helpful to have more Stewards, Communion Stewards and Worship and Mission Co-ordinators. Please pray that we might find the right people for these important roles as we go into the future. Lindsey Tilbrook has now established her role as Church Family Worker and I am grateful for her ongoing conscientious hard work.
Janet and I will move on to Bristol in August with mixed emotions. We have enjoyed being part of the church and local community in a village that actively encourages community participation. We have made many friends here and will move on with lots of memories and lots of interesting stories because ministry is primarily about people and relationships. We would like to take this opportunity to wish the Rev’d Bob Sneddon and his wife Sandie God’s richest blessing as they prepare to move here to become part of the church and local community.
There is much to look forward to and we pray God’s continued blessing on the work of the church here over the coming twelve months. The following words, originally written by St Paul, are offered to each of you as an encouragement:
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NIV
God Bless You