A View From The Park

 

A View from the Churchwarden's Pew

ST. OSWALD'S PARISH CHURCH, MAIN STREET, FULFORD

Something is happening…

That’s it then. We’ve reached a pivotal moment – a turning point… everything has changed or is changing – there’s no going back… and I don’t mean Brexit!

When I last wrote (in “Church & People”, October 2017 - “Taking the long view”) there was an impending sense of change in the air. Fresh from our series of LyCiG Local sessions and the subsequent Awayday at St Chad’s there was a pervading air of expectancy. Then 2018 hit us and a number of set-backs were encountered! (I’ll not dwell on the details here, but refer you instead to the ‘St Oswald’s Church Trustees Annual Report for 2018’, to be presented in Church at this year’s Annual Parochial Church Meeting on Sunday 3rd March 2019.)

Although, on the surface, little progress may appear to have been made since then – and we probably all feel as though we’ve been through ‘the refiner’s fire’ in the meantime, individually and corporately- things have moved, and are still moving on.

Continuing with a single 10.00am Sunday Morning Service throughout 2018 as we returned to worship in the church building appears to have stabilised and consolidated our congregation; numbers remaining fairly constant and fellowship over refreshments in the hall after services improving, with more participating and greater mixing being evident. Relationships have developed, several new members have joined the worship as well as becoming involved in other activities.

2018’s Thy Kingdom Come ‘Have your Say and Pray’ and the Yorkshire Day ‘Cake and a Cuppa’ initiatives together with the ‘There but not there’ Harvest and Remembrance commemorations each played a significant part in increasing community involvement and strengthening our external links. There now appears to be a real thirst for change, a desire to grow and a willingness for involvement.

Although building matters may have been prominent, the LyCiG theme of moving ‘from maintenance to mission’ has been firmly behind our PCC agendas and it feels particularly appropriate that it should be resurgent at this time of year as - nearing the end of winter and the coming of spring, when the seasons begin to change, and trees start to wake with the softening and revival of the earth - it’s a time for purification, spring cleaning and new starts! Putting the negativity of the past behind us and building on the positives.

Following the welcome news of the successful Heritage Lottery Grant bid to address the problems with the North Transept Rose Window, the PCC is keen to pick up on these threads of unfinished business, drawing them together in an ambitious and challenging programme of development and transformation, not just for our buildings but also for our activities, our community and our discipleship.

Meetings have been arranged with various ‘stakeholders’ to follow up on our somewhat delayed Community Survey; PCC sub groups are discussing feedback from our LyCiG forums in order to build on those findings through open meetings with our congregation and church members; Church groups are being asked to consider how they are being intentionally missional in their activities; plans are being made to participate in the initial Church of England nationwide ‘Lent’ Pilgrim course – to be followed here in Fulford by the Pilgrim series on “Church & Kingdom” which specifically addresses many of the issues raised in our own LyCiG sessions while, in the more immediate future there is the forthcoming open meeting with Mark Rance on Being Church – fittingly on Candlemas Day (2nd February) a hinge or pivot in the Church year when we traditionally take ‘One last look back to Christmas, and now turn towards the cross’ - a fine precursor to all that lies ahead.

...exciting, bewildering...?

So, challenging times. Decisions will be made and actions taken this year which will impact on our lives in Fulford - and here at St Oswald’s - for years to come. May I urge, encourage and entreat as many of us as can, to attend and engage as much as we can with the opportunities that lie before us. Remember that your input is valued, important to us and will inform our thinking going forward. It is together that we are ‘the body of Christ’ in this place – we are His Church – and God chooses to work both with and through human beings, all sorts of human beings; as Desmond Tutu once quoted Augustine of Hippo,“We, without God, cannot: God, without us, will not.”

Daunting? Yes, but we’re not alone. To slightly misquote John Newton’s Amazing Grace,“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, We have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought us safe thus far, And grace will lead us on.” Hopefully, by God’s grace and the Spirit's guidance we may be able to discern His will for us in Fulford as we seek together the mind of Christ for his Church here at St Oswald's and continue to move forward in His name and for His glory.

 

Bryan Milner, Churchwarden

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