It’s autumn now, and we’re in the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, in John Keats’ wonderfully evocative phrase. It can be a lovely time of year, with all the harvests in and God thanked for his bounty. But it can also be a time of hard choices for the strength and viability of future harvests.
This year’s harvests in the garden have been very mixed, due to the weather. Soft fruits have been generally disappointing due to the summer drought (my strawberries did not swell and the blackcurrants were like little bullets), but apples have been exceptionally prolific: the eaters are early and very rosy, and the cookers look as if there will be enough from two trees to supply the whole of Wirral over the winter!
In the church too we are used to seeing mixed harvests from our efforts. We plant seeds in God’s name, and we tend the crop, looking to grow the Kingdom in all that we do – and at St David’s we do a lot, and mostly to great effect.
However, some aspects of our work do not do so well, no longer bringing the results they once did or that we would like – whether in not reaching the people we would want to reach (notably children and young families), or else not providing them with the support and interests that need or want. Like any gardener or farmer faced with disappointments, we need to face a choice between tending them better for that stronger growth or moving to something else to achieve what we would want.
In the United Reformed Church, decisions about what to continue and what to change are made by the councils of the church. At the level of the individual congregation it is the Church Meeting that acts as the gardener or farmer:
• what to plant; which activities to begin or change?
• what to encourage; which of our on-going activities need our continuing support and better care?
• and what to pull up; which activities have ceased to yield the harvest they once did, and might be ended in favour of more promising opportunities?
At this point in the life of St David’s the importance of the Church Meeting as the decision making forum of the congregation is all too apparent. We know we are in a period of transition from being a large congregation where so much was achieved, with many people to support a full range of activities, to a much smaller and more compact fellowship that needs to prioritise more than it did in the past.
We urgently need to make choices about our buildings, as well as about our church organisations and outreach. Full involvement in the church is more than about joining some organisations, or attending worship services, or praying for the continuing strength of our witness, important though these are. It is also about active participation in our decision-making in the Church Meeting. The Elders’ Meeting can identify the kinds of choices that are possible and make suggestions about the paths to choose, but it is the Church Meeting that will make the decisions – whether about buildings (refurbishment or restructuring the building stock?) or calling a new minister when we have the opportunity (towards which there will be an up-dated Church profile to consider at the October Meeting).
Being a member of St David’s URC is a privilege, and through it we all experience together the joy of walking the way of Jesus in our lives and in our community. But that privilege also carries with it some direct responsibility for what we do through our attendance and our votes in the Church Meeting.
Our next church meeting will be on Monday, October 15th at 7.30pm in the Church Hall. We are reverting to the traditional mid-week evening time in the hope of attracting more members. Please make every effort to attend and make your voice heard and your votes count!
Yours in Christ,