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Parish Forum Report (5 Dec 2021)

On 5th December 2021 we held a Parish Forum – below is a report of our discussion as we look at the way forward.  This report has been delayed so we didn’t lose it in all the Christmas information.  We have another Parish Forum booked in for 6th February but we are delaying it a week to 13th February 2022 after the Church service at St Paul’s.

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Parish Forum Purpose

There has been a lot of change in the parish. A key aspect of this has been our gathering as one church as on a Sunday. Having sufficiently emerged from COVID to run a few months of primarily in person services, the leadership team wanted to hear how these were landing with people across the parish.

Focus

The chief aim of the Parish Forum was a listening exercise to create a number of ways for people to express their views and opinions.

The key focus was the new roster of services that had been trialled across October and November.

Summary of discussions

Following post it notes, table discussions, group sharing, and anonymous feedback the following summary briefly represents the main ideas emerging at the forum:

What have you enjoyed? What has surprised you?

  • Increased attendance of children. Something positive being done for families with children
  • Bringing people together from all four churches
  • Variety of the services and contributors
  • Juicy

What would you change? What has been missing?

  • Length of services – keep it shorter
  • Live music/worship – reflective time of worship, sense of transcendence
  • Deeper Bible teaching
  • Building and lay out of church
  • Less variety – 3 or 2 different styles
  • Eucharist/traditional service
  • Catering for older people
  • Feeling of school assembly/primary school
  • Had enough change/want familiarity
  • The words ‘proper’ or ‘real’ were used a number of times in different contexts.

Have the changes helped you think differently about who we are as a parish and what a church can look like?

  • Helped understand that we are one parish – Widened understanding of who is in our parish
  • The scale and complexity of the challenge is more apparent
  • The need for deeper relationships/getting to know one another has been shown

What one thing would you change?

A number of things were listed here, but only two occurred on more than one list:

  • Bible teaching 
  • More/better worship and reflection

To fully view the contents of the table discussions which have been summarised above, please click here.

Initial reflections

While the discussion highlighted several tensions, there are a couple of key themes coming out of these discussions. These could be summarised most succinctly and teaching and music. There seemed to be an appreciation and a celebration of children, those on the fringes and those new to church being able to participate in church. This was held alongside wanting something geared more towards those who are historically part of those four churches and have been part of the Church for many years.

Outcomes

The leadership is committing to creating an additional space that meets the desires expressed at the forum for this teaching and music. It is likely that this will occupy a Sunday Evening slot with many of the other details to be decided.

The creation and detail of this space will form the topic for February’s Parish Forum, looking at what this space for worship, teaching, prayer and discipleship can look like.

There were many other important issues raised as to how we continue with our Sunday morning worship, some of which will hopefully be reflected in the services themselves over time. There are then some more complex issues which will continue to be reflected upon by the leadership and inform our thinking. 

Pastoral implications

We want to recognise that what we are doing in this parish is new for all of us. We are really grateful for your openness to the journey we are all on. A key part of that is to remember that we need to know how you feel, so that we can include that in our decision making. And if ever you have questions as to why a service or mid-week space looks or feels a certain way, please ask and Chris, Ben and Clare are always more than happy to chat with you.

If ever you wish to raise anything anonymously, or simply chat something through, Daniel, who ran the discussion, is happy to chat with you or for you to email him: danielfurlong88@gmail.com

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