February Letter from Simon

1 03 2013

The trouble with deadlines is that they always come at the wrong time. I would love to be able to tell you the name of our newly appointed Community Minister at St Mary’s but I can’t until the final i’s have been dotted and t’s crossed on the paperwork. What I can tell you is that we have picked the best of a very good bunch. It was hard enough shortlisting six candidates from sixteen applicants, even harder reducing that to three for the final interview, and from that last round we had a pool that was small in size but deep in quality. I would particularly like to thank Pete Harris, Liz Williams, Kester Worme, Philippa Bird and Colin McKenzie for all the skill and expertise they brought to devising and carrying through the interview process and getting us to this point. 

Our new full-time staff member will start after Easter. You’ll see them at church on Sunday but the overwhelming majority of their work will take place during the week. This appointment will enable to do what we have always intended when we restored St Mary’s – to make it a true heart for the local community. Our new worker will be looking to partner with whatever is already happening in West Twyford, such as the West Twyford Youth and Community Project. Set up by local people and helped by St Mary’s, this local initiative desperately needs someone with time, energy and skills to make stuff happen on the ground. We now have that person. 

In addition to looking at the needs of the local community and exploring ways to address them, the Community Minister will also be looking at imaginative and attractive ways to communicate the Christian message to those who as yet have no contact with the church. This is something in which we all need to get involved, but we also need someone with new energy and fresh thinking to point us in the right direction.

Although the focus on this new post is at St Mary’s there will undoubtedly be benefits of the Ascension too. Youth work with teenagers is something which is best done together because in any kind of group activity numbers really do matter. For a number of years, Colin McKenzie and I have maintained a small Sunday night group for some of our teenagers. This is not running at the moment because quite simply we have run out of energy and ideas. That’s not good for the churches or for our young people but I’m hopeful that our new worker will be able to bring something fresh in this area too.

Lent begins on February 13th and our Sunday services between now and Easter will focus upon how we grow in Christian maturity and commitment. We must never lose sight of the fact that those who are formally designated as ministers in the church – Vicars, Lay Ministers (Readers), and even Community Ministers – are not there to do all the ministry of the church on behalf of everyone else. Rather they are there to use their special gifts and training to mobilise and equip all of us to get all of the ministry done. In a few months’ time we’ll be better placed than ever to do that.

Last but not least, many congratulations to Diana Dishley who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s honours list for her service to the wider community especially the magistracy and young people. Find out more in our Ascension Friends article.

Best wishes




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