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Vision Sunday 2021 

It is safe to say that 2020 was an unexpected year. Looking back to last year’s Vision Sunday, nobody could have quite known what was in store for us as a church, as a nation and as a global community. The coronavirus pandemic has dominated our view and continues to affect our direction in the weeks and months to come. Our 150th year as a church has been quite different from what any of us expected!

Yet in the midst of all this, God continues to be good and continues to be at work in us. Despite losing some precious people from our church family this year, there have also been joys, encouragements and highlights.
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  • The ability to continue church online, and livestream when we were able to be back in church which not only blessed our church family but opened that out to others online as well;
  • Interacting with one another online, especially for prayer. Monthly prayer times, an online Prayer Course and increased number at our Tuesday morning prayers has been an encouragement;
  • Continued focus on mission with successful Sundays for Kick, Riverbank and LVA, as well as Evangelical Alliance, IJM and Open Doors;
  • Two Alpha courses run online giving an opportunity for new people to join in exploring the Christian faith in new ways;
  • A terrific Christmas celebration, although different from past year, including a wonderful nativity play, children’s choir, creative contributions and live music in church for the first time in months;
  • Youth meetings via Zoom, including games and goodies, which have been both fun and encouraging for those involved;
  • Reaching out to the local community in different ways, including lighting up our church building for Christmas and working with Glassdoor to provide food for the homeless.

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Even though the pandemic still affects us moving into 2021, we should have great confidence that God is still living and active among us by his Spirit. As we begin to move away from pandemic restrictions in due course, our vision for this year is centred around what our church should look like in these new times. Focusing on Romans 12:2, God wants us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. We are looking, therefore, not to a return to ‘normal’, or even a ‘new’ normal, but a renewed normal under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

This will involve new challenges and new opportunities in this new season that God into which God is leading. For this reason we have decided to pause our building project for the time being, to ensure that future building works are fit for the new situation rather than past events. 

Looking into the coming year, there are a few areas where this 'renewed normal' will be worked out:
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  • Renewing and restarting our youth and children’s work. The regular youth Zooms and the family slot in the services have been terrific but we want to expand our provision for youth and children and eventually to restart Sunday and midweek groups. We are excited to have Chloe Rotter starting as Youth, Children and Families Minister and look forward to appointing a Youth Pastor in due course.
  • Renewing and restarting our worship life. I am sure we have all missed singing together in church over these many months. We look forward to restarting our worship together, including our Wednesday service, and look for new and creative ways to engage our worship, especially as the evening service restarts.
  • Renewing our pastoral care of one another. The pandemic has demonstrated just how much we need to care for one another, inside and outside church. We miss the wonderful work that Sheena did with pastoral care and want to ensure we continue to be a caring church in as many ways as possible, developing and using each person's pastoral gifts.
  • Renewing our outreach to those outside our church. We are a church with an open door, not only to invite people in but also so we go out to those around us. We want to build on our relationship with Glassdoor caring for the homeless, our mission organisations, but also look to new opportunities God is putting before us to reach our local communities.

How will you respond?

On Giving Sunday (17th January) we will be considering how God is calling us to use our gifts and talents to play a part in this renewed normal. We encourage everyone to be part of that Sunday and prayerfully prepare over the coming days.

God also calls us to be transformed personally. What does that look like for you in 2021? What area of your life does God want to bring his power and transformation to bear in this year?

Watch our Vision Sunday service here: