Encouragement for light on feet and innovative ministry

Be light on feet and innovative ministry

Church congregations in Wales “who have shown the power of love in action at a community level” during COVID are receiving praise from Rev Andy John, the Bishop of Bangor.

“We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts and say how proud we are of what you have given in the service of Christ”, said the bishop who is also president of the church’s governing body.

John also heaped praise on clergy who “held their nerve” and for being “light on their feet and discovering new and innovative ways to care for others”.

He described the pandemic as the most significant event to affect humanity since the Second World War.

“The impact on our economy and national well-being has been profound,” he said.

“It is perhaps too early to understand and describe completely how life is being reshaped, whether in the workplace, our communities, or even the effect on the global economy. The landscape of life is changing, and, to use the words of St John, admittedly entirely out of context, it is not yet clear what we will become.”

“We are wondering what to take with us on the next stage of our journey, and what to lay down. We are conscious that the numbers of those who worship in person might be fewer than was the case pre-Covid, and that a diminished base of support will ask new questions about our mission, property, and finance.

“But external stimuli have always shaped Christian purpose and polity: the persecution of the Early Church led to the first missionary journeys, and the demand of new tasks led to the calling of the first deacons. What is significant has never been the size of the challenge, but the scale of the faithful response,” said John who spoke in the changed context of ministry and possible new ways of being church.

Saying the pandemic is asking lots of questions of the Church, John indicated the Church in Wales will front-load it’s priorities and finances to reflect the new realities and hopes.

“The ‘authority of the eternal yesterday’ must not be a millstone around our necks, but provide a basis for a courageous embrace of what God is doing in the world around us.

“Mission always lies at the heart of faith, and being alive to God, to what might happen next, is part of remaining curious and open to new opportunity.”

John said he expected diverse expressions of church to become more normal and that he is in no doubt that the hybrid of “mixed ecology” of church life is here to stay.

“As diverse expressions of church become more normal, there will be new questions still about how we grow vocations — to the priesthood, and also lay leaders, who will offer the support and direction needed”, he said.

The bishop concluded his presidential address encouraging the church’s governing body saying “What is significant has never been the size of the challenge, but the scale of the faithful response.”


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