A year of pilgrimage
We had an amazing year last year, in which God fulfilled his promise to us that 2016 was to be a year of spiritual growth, focusing on our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We thank God for the growth in numbers of people joining our church family and in the depth of spirituality and friendship over the last year. Many more people in the church have joined together in triplets to pray; we have celebrated several baptisms of adults, young people and children; relationships with one another have grown stronger through our many social events, especially our church weekend away at Letton Hall and our mission trip to Bradford; we have come to know each other better and had fun as we have worked together serving our community at events such as Fun Day, Who Let The Dads Out and Christmas/Easter Journeys. Our Junior Church has continued to expand and God has called more people to support this important work with our children and young people.
So, what next for 2017
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”….. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. [Jeremiah 29: 11 & 13]
When we were planning for 2017, we did not know then that our vicars, Simon and Louise, would be leaving us this year. Just as they are going on a pilgrimage to a new calling in St Helens, we believe that God is calling St Paul’s on a pilgrimage in which we each commit to spending more time with God in quiet and reflection and in which we can also enjoy the company of each other through serving Him together on our journey into a deeper relationship with Him. Recognising God’s blessings in 2016 has created a tremendous sense of expectation for 2017 and this has not been diminished by the news that our much loved vicars will be moving on.
We have identified two key challenges as we embark on the next stage of our journey. The first is that as we grow, we need to become more intentional about how we build relationships throughout our church family and embrace newcomers and longstanding members alike in hospitality and love – going deeper into God’s love through hospitality to others.
Secondly, whilst we balanced our budget in 2016, the increase in giving has been outpaced by costs beyond our control. We need to make ends meet in 2017 and beyond. We also want to involve more people in supporting the many aspects of church life. And so, we believe that God is calling us to deepen our generosity, using more of our gifts and skills and money to better resource His work in St Paul’s.