February Team Letter from Revd. Simon PitcherJanuary 29, 2014
This month we introduce a revised pattern of Sunday services across the team. The changes are fairly modest, and are intended to reduce duplication, encourage a sense of “team” and to prepare us for the future. I have previously written in this magazine explaining the thinking behind the changes, and the process of consultation that we have been through. I thank everyone for their support and encouragement. We now need to make the new pattern a success.
Within our team there is still a wide variety of choice, and I hope that we can foster the idea that it is good to worship in all team churches, and not to feel obliged to be loyal only to one. If our own personal choice is not available in one place at a specific time, it will be available in an alternative team church. People often say at team services that they enjoy worshipping in a larger congregation with a good atmosphere, and that they appreciate meeting fellow Christians who usually attend other team churches or worship at different times. Hopefully our new services will encourage more coming together.
I think it is also true that by worshipping in a different place from time to time we can be refreshed and enlivened in our faith and worship. I hope also that by doing a little bit less we can do things better, because there will be less rushing around. Team clergy are regularly frustrated by having to dash off after services, and a little less dashing will increase the opportunity to engage in important conversations over coffee after services.
The thinking behind our service changes and behind all the work we are doing in Sole Bay is informed by what is taking place across the Diocese. In 2014 the Diocesan growth strategy will continue to develop. The main objectives of the growth strategy include : growth in numbers, i.e. to encourage more people to join our churches. To grow in depth, i.e. to deepen our understanding of our faith and our prayer lives. To grow younger, i.e. to engage with people in every generation, and so reduce the average age of congregations. To grow in influence, i.e. to place our churches at the centre of community life, and to address the important issues of our times.
Within Sole Bay we can play our part fully in working with this Diocesan vision. Our new pattern of services will make us more fit for purpose, and provide a foundation for growth in numbers. We have an excellent Lent Lecture programme this year, with first class speakers, and we will be joining “Churches Together” to run a Lent course during March. These will be opportunities to deepen our understanding and to enrich our prayer life. We hope to increase our work with the East Suffolk foodbank and our support for local and global charities is of vital importance. The use of our church buildings and halls for cultural events and festivals, concerts and tourism helps the churches to play a positive role in community life, and so we must continue to maximise opportunities to open our doors and to welcome people.
We hope that 2014 will also provide some good news on the appointment of a new Diocesan Bishop and a new Bishop of Dunwich. It is unlikely that anyone will be in post by the end of the year, but much preparatory work will be done, job descriptions prepared, selection committees drawn up etc, and once appointed our new Bishops will be a source of encouragement for the whole Diocese.
Yours in Christ
Simon : Team Rector