This year we will face an ending of our own as the five students and their families who have become integral to life of our church move on to the next stage in their journey of ministry and training. It will be a time of mixed feelings as we share their joy and excitement at their Petertide ordinations, but also sadness as we contemplate the end of their presence with us.
This month, the All Hallows’ PCC will be considering again what part our church might play in a new partnership with St John’s School of Mission (previously St John’s College, Nottingham). There will not be another cohort of five or six students based for two years in Lady Bay, but we have been invited to consider receiving one student minister for three years from the autumn. The new model of training involves a student not simply being on placement with us but actually working for half their time each week as an additional minister in the parish. The most significant change for us in the potential new partnership would be that we would need to invest some of our own funds in supporting that student. St John’s would heavily subsidise that cost (meeting two thirds of the accommodation and stipend) but it still requires us to set aside a significant sum for us – £15,000 – to ensure that we can contribute £5,000 per year for three years.
Why would we consider this when our own finances are so stretched and people are giving so generously to keep the church running? Part of the answer is that this is an investment in growth, not simply an additional cost. A student minister would add additional capacity for mission and ministry in the parish. We’d be getting something like half a deacon for a third of the cost. Any organisation that finds itself under financial pressure does better to invest capital sums in the future rather than just running them down to meet operating costs. We are not talking about using money from general giving, but from legacies we have received. More importantly though, we need to discern together whether this is what God is calling us to do. The financial questions are an integral part of our discernment, but ultimately this is a question of seeking God’s direction. We believe that understanding what members of the congregation think is essential to uncovering God’s leading among us. So if you’re a member of All Hallows’, please do take the opportunity in the next couple of weeks to let me or other members of the PCC know what you think, or even to put your thoughts in writing to me. If there’s anything you’re unsure about please do not hesitate to ask. We also ask everyone reading this, whether a member of All Hallows or not, to pray for the PCC as we have our next discussion about this invitation this month at 7:30 pm on the 16 March.
Whatever we decide together, we look to the future with hope and expectation because our faith assures that every ending is also a new beginning. Our God has good things in store for us together in Lady Bay and Holme Pierrepont. Let us pray for increasing clarity in understanding what they are and what our part in bringing them to birth might be.