Rev Chris update for 27th June

Dear all,
Having now returned from a week away walking the pilgrimage route called St Cuthbert’s way I have been reflecting on the nature of pilgrimage and how it connects with the life journeys that we all experience. On the journey we leave certain things behind as we enter a new landscape and take on fresh challenges.
This is also true of church, and various conversations have been taking place within the Church of England about the post Covid shape, and structure, of church in a changing world. There have been conversations within the Maidstone deanery (the subdivision of Canterbury Diocese that we belong to) as to what a flourishing future might look like for this deanery. Are there different ways that we could organise ourselves as the ten Church of England parishes in this place, and how radical should we be?
I am sure such conversations will continue and individual parishes will wish to contribute. In so far as it affects things on this side of town, I need to make you aware of changes to my role that have an impact on that bigger ‘deanery’ picture and have been part of a conversation within that wider context.
I have been the Priest-in-charge for both St Nicholas and St Andrew’s for nearly eight years now, however, much like a journey of pilgrimage, the time has come to move to a new landscape as I let go of certain things, in order to take up others. The ‘letting go’ relates to my role with St Andrew’s Church – I believe my time there has been productive and enriching, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been alongside them as they came to terms with the retirement of their previous minister Brian Reed, who had been with them for many years. Having provided that ‘space’ for them over these last few years my sense was that God was calling me in a new direction – as yet, for reasons of confidentiality, I am unable to disclose the details of what that is, but I hope to be able to do so in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, I am grateful for all that St Andrew’s have meant to me in my time there and wish them every blessing for the future. On a practical front John Sweetman, Lay Reader and churchwarden at St Andrew’s, will take over the publication of their weekly notices with immediate effect, whilst I will continue to issue those for St Nicholas Church.
I had hoped that this update would be welcoming the removal of Covid restrictions but, sadly, as we are all aware the possibility for this has been moved back to the 19th July. Having said that we are gradually trying to provide more ‘physical’ services. Whilst I was away Fiona presented a Parade Service and Messy Church, and the Morning Worship team will be in church on the 4th July (as well as an online offering).

This Sunday there will be a communion service in St Nicholas church with an online offering also at 10am and then Jackie will present Encounter online at 6.30pm – her song link is to the band Rend Collective with the song ‘Boldly I approach’ (I love Rend Collective and think of them as a sort of Christian Mumford & Sons).

Every blessing,
Rev Chris
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