February 19th will go down as a momentous day in the history of the Anglican Parish of Kincumber. This is the day when we met together to discuss, then vote on whether we would go ahead with the sale of St. bede’s, Saratoga, and the redevelopment of our Kincumber Ministry Centre. It’s a massive decision that will stretch us financially, challenge us physically (as we pack up the church in coming weeks, then prepare for services in the local Neighbourhood Centre till December) and it will also affect us emotionally.
The decision to go ahead was made on Sunday with a vote of 107 to go ahead, 4 against and 5 abstentions. This is an overwhelming show of support as we move toward this massive undertaking. That said, a massive show of support should not let us think that this isn’t a difficult and even painful decision for many people in our church family. I want to suggest a couple of ways that this wonderful decision, working toward a stable future for our parish, ought also be approached sensitively and pastorally.
The loss of historic resources
St. Bede’s has been a shining beacon in the Saratoga area for many decades now. As I took a funeral there today (Feb 22nd) of a lady who had served a youth group many years ago and whose husband had helped build some of the church, I was reminded that the walls, floor and roof also represent baptisms, funerals, marriages and many other experiences in between. It’s painful to have to let go of a resource that has played such a large part in so many lives.
The stress of finances
There is a certain empowerment that comes from stepping out in faith, trusting that building our new ministry centre will provide the best possible opportunity for a healthy and flourishing future. It’s exciting for Christians to take bold new steps, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re making a significant financial risk, and though Allan, the parish council, the diocese and the parish as a whole has looked over the numbers and are confident that we can do this, that doesn’t mean that we won’t feel a little nervous about the whole process.
Maybe, rather than seeing this as an anchor to stop us from moving ahead, we ought to let this concern inform our decisions, so we can be prudent in what we do and make the most out of the resources we have.
Because of the big decision concerning St. Bede’s, much of our recent debate has been framed within the context of this congregation. In reality, 8am and 10am are on the cusp of experiencing a massive shift in their worship habits. Soon these services will be moving to the Neighbourhood Centre and the congregations will get a feel for some of the problems that Se@K has been experiencing over the last couple of years. This will be a time where we need to be particularly thoughtful and careful with each other.
Even if we fast forward to this Easter 2018, it will be a new start for many St. Bede’s attenders, BUT it will also be a new start for St. Paul’s members. We’ll be meeting in a new part of the building, the whole centre is going to have a new feel, and it won’t be a matter of “St. Bede’s coming to join us here” but the whole of the parish having to find a new rhythm and rediscover how we do church as a new entity
It’s a wonderful decision that was made last Sunday. I am absolutely convinced that what we did with this decision was ensure that there will be a future for the Anglican Church in this region for generations to come. With that said, the decision was just the start of the process. The next year will be a massive transition for us, and then the real work begins of reestablishing ourselves as a parish with a new identity, and God willing, many new opportunities to engage with our community. This is the real challenge that lies ahead of us!