We met on Valentine's Day - by the way, did you know that Valentine was a single man who was martyred for his faith in Christ? - and even had some red roses and heart-shaped chocolates on the tables. How wonderful to serve a God who's love for us is immeasurably wide and long and high and deep (Ephesians 3.18) - and who calls us to 'philadelphia' love (loving each other as brothers and sisters) and 'agape' love (sacrificial love), not just to 'eros' love (sexual love).
Anyway, back to the meeting itself ...
Jacqui (one of our church wardens) began by reading some musings she'd written about the frustrations of this time of waiting, not sure how the Lord wants our church to move forward out of the pandemic. But how we have a sense that we have much still to learn about what it means to listen to God, and to actively wait on him to reveal his will. Maybe we are slowly learning to simply 'abide' in him (John 15) rather than rushing around in activity for him? We spent some time praying through all that.
Tara introduced a motion to help us be more transparent as a church council, particularly on financial matters. In the future, any un-budgeted expenditure over £10,000 that is spent will be communicated to the congregation. And any un-budgeted expenditure over £10,000 that we decide not to do (because it's too expensive or doesn't fit with our priorities etc) will also be communicated clearly. (By the way, thank you for reading this blog, whether you subscribe on a blog reader directly, or found this via our weekly e-news or Sunday notices - this is one of the main ways we can communicate to our church community.)
We then had a brief report from the Safeguarding Team who as usual set us some real scenarios to think through from a safeguarding perspective. It's great that we have teenagers wanting to serve in bands, tech teams and junior church groups - but we have to be careful thinking through when those young people themselves need to be 'safely recruited', and what level of safeguarding assessment and training is needed by those adults working with them.
Much of our time was spent beginning to think about a new set of values for us as a church. Values are about how we act. At the moment, we say we want to be a God-dependent, Bible-based, mission-focussed, grace-filled, authentic community. It's not that we want to shy away from those values, still less ditch them altogether! But we sense that a new set of values will help us move forward as a church. So we spent time in small groups imagining how our church might be different in a year's time if we adopted various suggested key values.
What values would you encourage us to adopt? Watch this space - we'll return to this discussion.
We then finished up with some brief updates on bits and pieces including St John's, some community engagement about the Parish Hall proposals, some employment matters, covid guidelines and ministry plans for Lent and Easter.
What a range of topics we cover each time! We spent time at the end praying through much of what we'd been discussing.
By the way, we'll be on the look out for 3 new Church Council members soon. Might God be calling you?