Welcome to Spring. Hopefully by the time you are reading this the weather will also have realised that spring has started.
Spring is the season of growth, change and new life. Father Martin alludes to this theme in his notes from the Vicarage and we wish to welcome the newly-elected PCC members and wish them well in their service to the Church and the Parish. We also want to thank all of those people who are stepping down after many years service to the Parish.
At the same time the congregation is continuing to grow with more people attending the services this Easter than for previous years. It is really great to be part of such a thriving Church that has real links to its community.
We are continuing to develop The Pioneer and want your help with any ideas and original articles. We want it to reflect events, achievements and news within the Parish and Congregation of St Augustine’s.
Another fresh venture is the Church Flower Committee which is taking up the baton from Mary Richardson et al. They also want your help and support.
Simon and Ruth Green
On the morning of Maundy Thursday I received an e-mail from one of my colleagues here in the Havering Deanery asking me if I had been shortlisted for one of the newly created Archdeacon’s jobs, specifically the new position as Archdeacon of Barking. You may recall that I put in my report to the APCM that three of the existing four Archdeaconries were being split, in our area the Archdeaconry of West Ham is being divided to create two new ones; one will continue to be known as the Archdeaconry of West Ham and will cover the London Boroughs of Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge. The other is to be known as the Archdeaconry of Barking and comprises Havering with Barking and Dagenham.
I was rather surprised by my colleague’s e-mail since I had not applied for the position. True I had downloaded and read all the paperwork put out by Bishop Stephen’s office mostly out of sheer curiosity, after all whoever is appointed is going to be living right here in Romford and is going to be around an awful lot more than the Archdeacon of West Ham ever could have been. My only thought was that I must have been observed reading the papers during the more interesting bits of some other meeting thus, my colleague had made the erroneous assumption that I would be applying. The e-mail ended with a sort of “chin up” type phrase saying he hadn’t been shortlisted either, but at least this way we could keep on working together. That was a nice thought, it is true, but it made me wonder what he thought he would be doing with the new Archdeacon when they start work in September. It is entirely possible that before we reach May we will know the name of the successful candidate, watch this space!
The new Archdeaconry is, as I said, one of three that are being created under Bishop Stephen’s plans to invigorate the diocese and follow on from the discussion document ‘Transforming Presence’. The repercussions of the continuing roll out of the proposals contained in that document are still being explored, but one thing is a reality and that is that the Church of England as we now know it in this diocese will look very different within the next few years from how it looks now.
I have been saying for a while now that ‘we have to start looking at a greater lay involvement in those parts of the service that are not required to be lead by the clergy;’ and that ‘going forward there are going to be less and less full time stipendiary clergy such as myself and that those that we do have are all going to be looking after more than one parish.’ The implications of this are still being explored but in Havering it is expected that within ten years we will be grouped into a maximum of five Mission and Ministry Units [until a few days ago these were know as ‘worship units’ (a term even the Bishop was said to hate and he invented it)]. Each to be led by a senior fulltime priest supported by perhaps one fulltime colleague and a curate in training; a number of self supporting part time or semi retired clergy; some Readers and or Local Lay Ministers (these may be the same thing but no one is sure yet), some other licensed laity (Evangelists, Preachers, Missioners, Funeral Takers, Bereavement workers, Youth workers, etc….).
Where will this leave us? I simply do not yet know, though I have some thoughts which I want to discuss with the newly elected PCC. Of this though I am certain, our growth as a church is down to the way we welcome visitors and enquirers, the proper traditional preaching and teaching of the scriptures and a practice of the faith rooted in the sacraments. This we must ensure continues regardless of whatever else is going on. Whilst I have the Freehold of the Parish it is entirely possible that we could bury our heads in the sand and ignore these developments and this is certainly an option, but it is also a very short-sighted one. Change is going to happen and if that is the case then it is surely better to be an instrument of that change than to be sidelined by it and marked for future removal.
The development on the former Oldchurch Hospital site is progressing at some speed, as are the developments at Roneo Corner and along Crow Lane. In addition it is looking increasingly likely that the supermarket (Morrisons) and housing development on the ice rink site by the Queen’s Hospital will commence within the next year. This parish is growing even without the changes that I’ve just mentioned. Consequently I am ever grateful for all of the help that I get from Fr. Mervyn and Joan, as well as from some of you, but I do need more help, please therefore pray for God’s discernment in your lives and if you feel that you may be being called to a more active role in the life of our parish, then come and have a no commitment chat.
Another thing that I referred too in my APCM report was the fact that next year sees the one hundredth anniversary of the creation of this Diocese of Chelmsford. To help mark this centenary Bishop Stephen has decided that every parish in the diocese, without exception, is to run a mission event of some form. This should not be a difficult thing for us to do except for the fact that we are already heavily committed to mission and outreach through our Saturday Shop, our support for the Rush Green Regeneration group, our involvement with the newly created Rush Green Primary School (formerly Rush Green Junior School and Rush Green Infant School) both on the governing body and in the classroom and which is much appreciated by both the staff and Barking & Dagenham Council. This relationship with the school provides us with yet another means of outreach into the community as does our continuing involvement with the Queen’s Hospital Chaplaincy.
On the subject of the Queen’s it was wonderful to have Tim Coleman from the chaplaincy team with us on Good Friday as we walked with the Cross and held our hour of devotion prior to the Liturgy of the Day. Tim’s insights into Jesus’ last moment’s were both thought provoking and very moving. Our attendance over the Triduum was generally up on the previous year and that on Easter Day itself at the 10 o’clock continued a trend that stretches back to 2008, yes a six year, year by year increase and which this year included 21 young people under the age of 16. An impressive turnout in my opinion, especially when the press would have us believe that the church holds no place in the lives of young people
Throughout its history the Church has faced many challenges and it is clear, as I have outlined above, that it has even more to come both globally, nationally and locally. Now I like a good challenge so quite simply all I can say is next please.
God Bless you all.