Pastoral Letter

from Revd. Malcolm Hickox

Dear Friends,

‘A God-centred church, actively serving others’. That has been our ‘strap line’ since the Church adopted its last mission statement in 2004/05. That statement and policy were the driving force behind the ‘Building Together’ Scheme, which resulted in the refurbished Fulwood Methodist Church Crossroads Centre being opened in 2010. Since then we have experienced the impact our adapted building has had on the Church’s mission and new opportunities have emerged that could never have been foreseen. We are known locally as a Church which not only engages with the community, but seeks to serve those in need and we rejoice that we are a diverse Christian community from very different backgrounds.

Over the last ten years life has changed at a rapid pace, particularly in churches, which is why our Methodist Circuit is carrying out a review of its resources and mission so as to develop a strategy which is relevant and sustainable. The review group will be seeking our views and so the Church Council decided that the time was right for a new Vision and Mission Statement which reflects our commitments for the next two years. The significance of that period is that by next summer I shall have completed the five years of my invitation as Minister and having had my 65th birthday in March this year I shall be ‘sitting down’ from active ministry and moving away from the area. The process for finding a successor for my appointment has already begun, but the Circuit is also seeking to recruit a full-time Youth, Children’s and Family Worker for Fulwood to take over the responsibilities Yasha held and to extend our work in that area. These appointments will be shaped by our new Vision and Mission Statement.

A new minister and lay worker will bring their own ideas, but the Church Council agreed that it was important to re-state the Church’s commitment to celebrating and deepening the faith of its members, and to reaching out to our local community with acts of witness and service. All of which is set against the background of our inter-faith and ecumenical relationships continuing to be of real significance to the well-being of our communities. At its meeting in June the Church Council adopted the following statement and agreed that over the coming months there would be a series of discussions about how it might be put into action.

The Vision

Fulwood Methodist Church - disciples of Jesus Christ, enthusiastically continuing on a journey of faith, demonstrating God’s love for all people.

The Church’s Mission

The journey we are undertaking is to witness to our faith through worship and service in ways that show God’s love for all people. In witnessing to the love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we are thankful for our heritage and for the gifts and resources with which we have been provided. We will be responsibly creative in adapting these to the opportunities and needs which present themselves. To that end we commit ourselves to the following:

We will

1. Renew our commitment to being part of ‘a discipleship movement shaped for mission’(i) which gives honour to Jesus Christ and to God’s creation in all we do.

2. Recognise that every individual is different and yet made in the image of God.

3. Exercise ‘radical hospitality’(ii) in our regard for each other - children, young people and families, people at work in their various daily occupations and those with different opportunities and challenges – and warmly embrace the stranger, the newcomer and those with additional needs, continuing to offer our premises and ourselves in service.

4. Develop a variety of opportunities for worship at different times and in different styles over the whole week.

5. Emphasise well-being, development and growth and especially our need to develop our spiritual understanding and maturity.

6. Actively meet people in our community, listen to and learn from their voices, and work with them to create a more just society.

The Church Stewards believe that we are in an exciting time as we continue to build on our achievements and respond to the opportunities that are before us. I hope you will all wish to play your part and engage with the challenge to put into action our new Vision and Mission Statement.

Every blessing,

(i) ‘A discipleship movement shaped for mission’ is another way of saying that we are a movement of Christians committed to deepening our discipleship in order to be agents of God’s mission, as a transforming presence in the world.

(ii) ‘radical hospitality’ is about inviting, welcoming, and caring for those who are strangers. It looks outwards with a love that motivates us to be open, adaptable and willing to change, in order to accommodate the needs and receive the talents of newcomers, as we reflect the gracious love of Christ, respect the dignity of others and express God’s invitation to them.