“Setting our spiritual compasses together”

Throughout 2020 and 2021 St Mary’s has examined the path that we are taking as a church and begun to clarify our vision. That vision has now been embraced by all The Ross Parishes. We invite you to be part of this season of praying, thinking, and talking together, listening for what we hear God calling us to be and to do as St Mary’s Church in Ross-on-Wye today as we continue this journey in 2022.

An update from Sean – September 2020

Dear friends
Someone asked me this week whether the pandemic had killed the vision that we have for our parishes. Under the circumstances a fair question, but let us remember firstly that this vision was not just the product of wishful thinking. It was something that was prayerfully and corporately discerned, and thus a vision given to us by a God who knew the future, and gave us a vision for what these churches can be in a post-pandemic era. There is no doubt that our communities need even more faith, hope and love now than they did in January 2020 when we had our Vision Day!

But now it is time for our parishes to move beyond talking about this vision and to make it happen. Faith without works is dead, according to St James, and talk without action is cheap (which I was surprised to discover is attributed to John Bunyan…) We are currently asking everyone to prayerfully consider how your life experience, skills, gifts and time can be used to inspire faith, hope and love in Ross, Walford and Brampton Abbotts – in other words, how you can get behind, and be part of making this vision a reality? What resonates or is stirring in you? What fires your imagination? What makes you angry and what would you like to change? What are you passionate about? What does Tiffany’s mind map (overleaf) inspire in you?  Remember there is no life experience or skill that God cannot use, and that if nothing else is possible, you could remember your church regularly in prayer. I am very excited to hear what you feel you can do for God in your parish at this time!

For the parish vision to become a reality it will be necessary for PCCs to provide leadership and to champion this vision.  In the next month each of our parishes will hold an Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) which is an AGM of the congregation. We receive reports and reflect on the year that is past and also outline our plans for the future. At the APCM we elect churchwardens and people onto our PCCs, and this year we are praying for people who are passionate about and committed to making our vision a reality. In particular we are looking for people who can take the lead in each of the four following areas of church life, and to work with others who have a similar sense of calling, skills or zeal:

Inspiring Faith: People who are passionate about helping others to develop their faith, and want Christianity to be presented to the community (including schools) in the most relevant, intergenerational and attractive ways. This includes helping us provide a mixed economy of worship – traditional, choral, modern, fresh expressions, and how we can make best use of Zoom and IT. Inspiring Faith also means helping people take the next steps in faith, and growing in knowledge of and commitment to God.

Inspiring Hope: People who are passionate about making the world a better place, particularly for those who have lost their hope in life; facilitating social justice in our town and villages.  

Inspiring Love: People who are passionate about caring for those who are struggling due to illness, bereavement, relationship breakdown, loneliness, or any other issue. 

Inspiring Support: People who are passionate about making things happen behind the scenes: IT, finance and fundraising, looking after our church buildings or churchyards, administration, communication, catering, flower arranging…

We need people to champion these 4 areas of the vision on our PCCs, and equally we need people to support these champions. Perhaps you can offer something small to one area of the vision, and so use what you have for God. Remember the story of the widow’s coin! (St Luke 21.1-4)

Yours in faith, hope and love

For centuries Christians in Ross on Wye—and across the world—have passed on the love of God and faith in Jesus Christ from one generation to another. They’ve done that with courage and imagination, responding in different ways to the challenges and opportunities of the times they’ve lived in. Now it’s our turn.

Jesus has given us a huge vision as Christians, teaching us to pray with one heart and one mind for the coming of God’s kingdom “on earth as in heaven”. We all have a part to play in that—each Christian, and each church in Ross on Wye. The question is how we do that in our generation, with the
particular challenges and opportunities of the 2020s impacting the lives and of young and old alike?

So in the run up to Easter this year we’ve begun a process of listening to God and to each other to hear what we hear God calling us to be and to do.
St Mary’s is the only Church of England church in Ross-on-Wye. So what is God specially asking of us today?

You are the only person with your special gifts and talents. What is God
specially asking of you today?

As you read on, what resonates for you? What prayers, thoughts, pictures, hopes, dreams, are coming to you? We hope that you will be a part of the process of a vision emerging, and coming to life.

Emerging vision: Who matters to God?

“God cares about people of all ages and backgrounds And we do too!”

What sort of church do we want to be?

We want to be a church “where all ages and backgrounds can find a welcome and a home”

“A church that goes out and doesn’t wait for people to come to us.”

“A church where all can hear the good news.”

“A church where there are a range of ways to explore faith.”

“A church which cares about, and brings together, people of all sorts and needs – being supported, and supporting each other.”

“A church that is good news to the suffering, disadvantaged.”

“A church of healing love and loving courage – in the messy reality of life.”

“A church where God’s light is shining at the heart of its life – and in our daily lives.”

Our Rector, Sean, writes:

I am beginning to hear a positive vision emerging. Here are some of the ingredients I am hearing:

  • A vision of a warmly welcoming and inclusive community which values everyone and values excellence, welcoming of those we know and those we don’t, at every stage of their lives…
  • That we feel that God is calling us… to learn how to share our faith… To be a church that celebrates… and celebrates a “mixed economy” of worship – traditional and non-traditional. A church that is open to the transformation that has begun here.
  • A church that supports one another, shares faith with one another, and outwardly…
  • A church ‘passing on the light’, inspiring this generation…
  • A church enabled by God – not in our own strength, but with the confidence that God will supply what we need…

You can download Sean’s Candlemas Sermon which focussed on Vision 2020.

Please keep praying, listening, sharing, asking God to fill us with faith, hope and love as we “set our compasses together” to pass on the light of Christ in this generation. Sean

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please send us an email to vision@rawchurch.org.uk. By using this link your message will go straight to all the people coordinating our vision.