On Saturday 29th April the Wardens, PCC and other members of St Mary’s met to begin to
make plans for the next four to six years. As a church we have spent several months in
prayer, seeking God’s vision and direction, and the meeting in April was the culmination of
that time of prayer.

We began by considering the purpose of the Church, reflecting on Jesus’ Great
Commandment and His commission to the Church:

“The first Commandment is, ‘Hear, O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and
with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as Yourself.’ There
is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31).

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go and make disciples of all
nation, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and I am with you always, to the
end of time.”         (Matthew 28:18-20)

Then we began to think about what we believe God had been saying to us and started to
think about our priorities under 5 headings.

Below are some of our thoughts:

1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” - Worship.
Develop role of children/youth & families in 10am service. 2017/18
Look at developing an extra service - very different in style from our 10am service.

2. “Love your neighbour as yourself” - Ministry.
Engage with the national research by Church of England into experiences at baptisms,
Weddings & Funerals.
Review Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals.
Move most of Baptisms into 10am service starting in 2018.
“Serving and Loving our community” - what does this mean for us here & now?

3. “Go and make disciples” - Evangelism.
Explore how we can implement Back to Church Sunday.
Establish a social media presence.
Research practicality & viability of a service in the community -

Fresh expression - in Library or School.
Explore how the church can be open more during the week.
Holiday clubs? Develop links with local schools and Parent & Toddlers.

4. “Baptising them” - Fellowship
Regular Songs of Praise service - perhaps 3 times a year;

invite community groups to take part & tell us about themselves.

5. “Teaching them to obey” - Discipleship.
Find ways of helping members of church to discern their gifts & callings: look at developing
links with New Wine on enabling Christians to fulfil the calling; diocesan resources.
Alpha Course.

In addition we also felt strongly that St Mary’s would be a great place for a curate to train
and so we will apply for a curate to start in 2018 or 2019. We also would like to explore
having a Youth/Children’s Worker.

We looked at the development of our building, noting that the building itself is integral to
our mission - it attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Disabled Access is a priority, as is enhancing our Audio visual provision.
Ideally we would like to have a second toilet and a Meeting Room at the back of the church.
We would like to explore moving the font to the front of the church.

These results of our prayers and our planning will guide us over the next four to six years.
We have already begun to put some parts of the plan in place.

More than anything else though we should plan to be open to the Holy Spirit and to make
prayer and worship the foundation of everything that we do here at St Mary’s. We
remember Jesus’ promise that when we gather in His name He is among us, and we pray
that in everything that we do or attempt Jesus will be glorified.

God bless,

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We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
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Thought for the month
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First Words...,  A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
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The Lord’s Prayer, Part 5: “Forgive us as we forgive.”

Forgiveness is at the heart of Jesus’ ministry and so it is central to His prayer.

When we ask to be forgiven we are seeking to be set free from our past; and when we forgive
we set others free too.

To forgive rather than to extract revenge can, at first sight, seem to be weak;

but in reality it is a sign of strength. Jesus words about forgiveness in His prayer are very
challenging and demanding.

Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness builds on and develops the teaching of the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses famously limited revenge (Exodus 21, see Matthew 5:38):
if you blind me I am allowed to blind you - but I can’t kill you. It is an eye for an eye and a
tooth for a tooth - but no more.

This is a step away from unlimited revenge and vendetta,
but Jesus’ Gospel goes further than the Law.

To forgive a person is not to pretend that they didn't hurt us or that what they did does not
matter. It that case there will be little or nothing to forgive. Nor is forgiveness the same as
accepting excuses. If there is an excuse for a wrong done, a good reason for it, then there is
nothing to forgive.

CS Lewis once said that too often when we think that we are seeking God’s forgiveness what
we are really doing is asking Him to accept our excuses!

To be forgiven is to be set free from the consequences of our actions and of our past.

It points us towards a new future. When we forgive someone who has hurt us we are actually
deciding not to let them have continuing control over our feelings or to have any influence on
our actions - I refuse to allow those who have hurt me to make me hate.

To forgive someone is to be like Christ.

At the heart of the Gospel is the Cross and at the heart of the Cross there is God in Jesus
dying for us, dying in our place so that we can be forgiven and set free.

As Christians we forgive because we have been forgiven.
Our experience of God’s mercy changes us.
We who have experienced the liberating mercy of God forgive in turn.

There are times when we do not want to forgive the person who has harmed us.

The first step to being able to forgive might be to ask God to help us to want to forgive them.

Forgiveness is not a call to become a doormat; to forgive comes from a place of strength.
There will be times when, even though we have forgiven someone and we absolutely refuse
to hate them, yet we still seek justice - perhaps in order to protect others, perhaps in order to
prevent others being harmed.

Finally Jesus calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven.
God’s forgiveness sets us free and it brings about change in us.
When we seek God’s forgiveness we are also seeking His transforming Spirit to change us
into the image of Jesus. So when we forgive those who ask it of us we should also pray for the
Spirit to re-make them.

As with the other parts of this prayer that Jesus gave us, the prayer of forgiveness leads us
further down the path of discipleship. Praying and living this prayer will change us, and
through us it can change the world.

God bless,
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September always feels like the start of a new year to me, and for many people it is the start
of a new school year. It also feels like the beginning of a breathless rush to Christmas! So my
resolution for this month is to make sure that I find time for prayer in the midst of all the

In September the regular meetings and groups will re-commence.

Saturday 9th September at 9am we will have a prayer breakfast in church.
Time to meet together to pray for our parish and our nation and also time to listen for God.
So many Christians have told me over the years that they would like to pray more and to
deepen their experience of prayer - if you have never been along to the prayer breakfasts
they are well worth getting up on a Saturday for!

In September we will be moving the
Time for God evenings from Tuesdays to
The dates for September will be Wednesday 13th & 27th from 7.30 - 9pm. We gather in
Church for worship, teaching and prayer. Themes to be announced.

Mission and Discipleship Committee will be meeting on Monday 18th Sept.
We will be looking at prayer ministry and the Alpha course.

Looking a little further ahead the
Emley Band will be giving a concert in Church on
Saturday 21st October. Tickets are available now - book the date in your diaries.

God bless,