Here is Rev Sue’s article from the June magazine. As you read it, please reflect on how you could contribute.
I don’t know whether you have read the book The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It is unusual because it has three endings to the central love affair. The author dismisses the first as unrealistic fantasy, and then lets us choose between the others. There are times when in life we are at a crossroads, and there are various scenarios possible for the future. I think that we are now at one such moment with St Margaret’s (we will talk about St George’s another time).
The story so far
St Margaret’s is a thriving church with a variety of worship styles and a good online presence. It’s a caring church and welcomes new members. Over the years a relatively small number of people have given their time very generously to the administrative and practical things that need doing in the church, and the church runs smoothly – in fact most people don’t realise the tasks that are carried on in the background. But people are not as young as they were, and the pandemic has taken its toll.
The first ending
Those people really care about the church, and some of them struggle on even after they would really like to retire. No one volunteers to take over. Morale becomes low, there is less joy, and the occasional grumpiness. People who come to worship begin to pick up that all is not well, and we get no new people attending. We cannot run the church, and it is decided that St Margaret’s can no longer be an independent parish.
The second ending
Having tried for a number of years to fill the key roles with new people, we wonder if we need to do things in a new way. Perhaps we need not a few people who commit a large amount of time, but quite a lot of people who give an hour or two a week. Current roles are split into smaller tasks and people are prepared to commit to carrying them out. The church becomes filled with a new energy as more people are involved in the running, and as they are drawn in their faith deepens and enriches their lives. Visitors come to a happy and vibrant church and come back the following week.
What we can do
We are not far off reaching a crisis point. We have hoped and prayed for several years that people would emerge to be trained for the key tasks. We can carry on as we are for a while longer, of course, but that is neither fair to those who want to retire nor a good idea. We want new people to work alongside the existing ones to learn the ropes, not to take over vacant positions. It is your choice. If you want St Margaret’s to remain a thriving, independent church, can you offer an hour or two a week? You don’t have to be on the PCC or come to church every week, and we won’t load extra things onto you. Please consider this carefully. Are you committed to the future of St Margaret’s?
The first post we would like to fill is the treasurer’s post. There is excellent administrative help available, but we need someone who will take responsibility for overseeing the parish finances.