Teaching in the parish

Teaching in the parish

This blog is to share the teaching within the parish

We are a parish who worship in four churches whilst being one worshipping community. Those who teach and preach within the parish wish to share what we believe God is sharing with us as we journey into the local communities and those in the wider areas.

Yvonne Callaghan - "When all is stripped away?"

Sunday 05th March 2017Posted by Yvonne Callaghan Tue, April 18, 2017 22:26:01

Last week I caught up with a friend

Whose eldest daughter lives with a serious eating disorder

When I asked my colleague

how her faith was as she navigated the waters of life

throughout her daughters illness

She replied

My faith has had to change

My surety and naivety in a God

who would above all things

protect those who love him above those who don't has gone

And a new true understanding

that God loves each of us

Not just those who love him

God’s love is truly unconditional

but it is not a magic potion

a cloak with protects us..

That even in our times of darkness

We are be-loved - delighted in and known

And today as we hear again

the familiar words of the devil tempting Jesus in the desert

it is in that being know, delighted in and loved we can see

that Jesus was able to stand firm in the desert testings

Jesus did not give way to the fear devil was aiming to use

Because Jesus knew the 'if you's'

were lies to unnerve and disturb him..

Jesus in his identity

as beloved child of God stands firm

against the lies and fear of the devil...

I suppose my question today is Are you

Are we strong enough in our identity as beloved children of God

To stand firm in all we are being tested in

both personally

and as Church …

Our faith is a way of living which must be integral

on a Sunday and on every other day

and in every other moment..

As people of faith

we face many challenges

one we have been looking at is mapping

what could our parish look like in 5 years?

Well.. I’m glad we have been doing that work

because within the entire Ripon episcopal area

We are being asked to look at each

Deanery and within each parish

what might Church look like in 2030

Its the 2030 vision

Part of that vision is to be real

and to respond NOT out of fear


One of the factors around 2030

nationally 40% of today's clergy will have retired

the people coming through in training do not match those numbers

In our Deanery alone we are looking at 4 clergy

for the entire Richmond Deanery

where we have something like 68 church buildings

4 clergy for 68 Churches

As a response to this figure

Archdeacon Bev asked us to work out in our own hearts and minds

if everything goes

Clergy, robes, buildings, liturgy, music, hymns, ...

what really matters

What is the crux of who we are as church ?

Where is our faith?

I ask you the same question this morning

What is central to your faith ?

If it's the building ..

what happens if it goes?

If it's the clergy

What happens when we have 4 in the entire deanery?

If it's the words of a particular type of services

What happens when we don't use those words ?

If it's the music

What happens when we don't have Myles Fionagh or James?

So take a moment and be real...

I hope each of you know yourselves

whatever your age to be a child of God

So in the surety of your identity

Lets ask some questions

What if These things I hold dear

you hold dear go?

Is being known, beloved, adored enough??

Many of you know Pam, Hazel, Mary, Diana and myself

went to a share review meeting earlier last month

Parish share is a financial,

socioeconomic calculation made at diocesan level

and handed to the parishes

who pay this sum to the diocese to cover costs

Mainly it covers the cost of clergy

and diocesan running expenses

it is in that reality that we have to look at who we are

with 4 grade 1 or grade 2 listed church buildings and a hall

Which cost a fortune to heat

To repair …

How do we make them sustainable

how do we use them for more than one hours worship a week

It's immoral that the entire Church invests so much in buildings financially

and in people hours to use a building one hour a week..

hold that thought…

So... back to the parish share review meeting

Our parish shares proposed increase in three years will take us

somewhere in the region of 80k+

last year we paid £26k

The reality is in three years time

when the share increase is around £80k+

we will have no money to cover our costs

Our reserves will be gone

Our giving our collections

although generous is already not enough

We have set a £10k deficit budget this year..

in 3 years time we will have nothing left financially

to cover the costs of ministry ...

So I ask again



When all is stripped away ...

What is important to your faith ...

What matters

At the share meeting Archdeacon Bev looked at our figures and said

you are unsustainable

which two churches are you going to close?

And she is right to ask

and to ask the further questions of

How many people do you get in the doors of your buildings each week

to warrant the cost of heating our churches

How much is our insurance, repairs, maintenance

Where else do we meet that doesn't have these overheads?

Where are your buildings multi purpose warm comfortable

With parking .. fully accessibly for all people

Not just accessible to those who have loved their own church building

Perhaps LOVING THAT BUILDING above loving God

And as we are being asked that question

so is every parish in the deanery

The golden age

If ever there was one

Has gone

The truth of who we are HAS NOT GONE


beloved, adored Children of God

who are redeemed by Jesus

and all he did on the cross and through his resurrection

We are his Church

And it is as his Church

in the confidence of knowing we are beloved children of God

that we will respond to the challenge of today



AND IN REALITY AS WE LOOK TO 2030 and beyond..

We have to respond to CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES

We have to look again at where our population are

We have to look again at how we are church

How we use our buildings

And don't think just because reserves

are tied up under some title or other

that makes you or your church building safe …. It doesn't ..

All reserves will be undone

or offered back to their original benefactor

if they cannot be undone ...

we cannot have money in a pocket which is untouchable

when we have to pay our way

All of this sounds overwhelming

All of this sounds threatening

All of can make us respond from a place of insecurity

and not from a prayerful place of being known

loved and adored children of God..

We will be Church here in our parish into 2030 and beyond

But don't think for one moment it will be as it has been

We have to cut our cloth appropriately

We have to be more than a Sunday church

We have to be more than a holy huddle

in our own preferred building in our own preferred way

We have to become more relevant in our communities

We have to live among others

who do not yet know they are beloved -adored children of God

We have to be wise

We have to pray

We have to use common sense

And respond from a place not of fear but of of faith

Just as Jesus responded

from a place of faith in being a beloved child of God

Common sense tells us we have to change our ways

So lets use common sense and be wise

no knee jerk reactions

we exist as Church to worship God

and to share his love with others..

we baptise, we marry, we teach in schools, in Open2All, in SPLASH

in house group, in the cafe.. we visit, we pray…

and we have to continue doing those things

we have to be missional

or why do we exist at all?

things like the Lent Bags

are essential for engaging those who do not understand Lent

as well as those of us

for whom Lent is a familiar pattern of our Church Year..

Common sense tells us

we cannot have our own little private place of worship

shaped as it has been for thirty : forty - hundreds of years

But we must not stop everything we do and are out of fear

We have to be different

Different by letting God build the shape of his Church

His house

Please us the words of Psalm 127

which your PCC have been using recently

We have to let God build the house

There will be pain in this process

Pain for those who love God

as we work out with him

how we will be Church afresh in this generation and beyond..

But… just as my friend right at the start..

when we live in a true understanding

that God loves each of us

Not just those who love him

That God’s love is truly unconditional

is not a magic potion

a cloak with protects us..

That even in our times of darkness

We are be-loved - delighted in and known

Last week Mary spoke so eloquently on

Listening and being heard

How Peter perceived one thing

Whilst Jesus was doing another

Peter assuming that God was always going to act

as he had done in the past.

But just as Peter last week had to discover

God is not repeating the past

he is making all things new

he wants us to respond as the disciples of old responded

after his death

Build the Church

for this generation and beyond..