What we do 

The Team Vicar Writes… 

 “Responding to change - whether we like it or not…”

As Kevin said in The Team Rector Writes… for June, we’re into the time of year when - ‘normally’ - we’d be going away on holiday. Yet, “for many of us, holidays this year may be just a day out or a walk around the garden!”

And it’s not just holiday plans that have changed during the past 18 months or so of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many aspects of our lives have had to change - and some of these changes will be permanent, whether we like it or not.

Zoom (3)The expansion of the ‘digital world’ is one example. Going online for medical appointments, to do our shopping, to see our family members outside our ‘bubble’, for education, and for church services and meetings, has become commonplace for those with any internet access. We’ve discovered that Zooms are not just the iced-lolly I remember from my youth, webinars are nothing to do with spiders, and so on…

For the clergy, as for other professions, this has meant a large level of ‘upskilling’. To give just one instance, Marriage certification is no longer about signing Registers during a wedding service in church; now it requires the officiating minster to interact with a central electronic system. While the digital revolution was already well under way, Covid-19 has pushed the ‘fast-forward’ button.

It has also brought forward the necessity of significant change for the Church in this country. For a long time, it’s been clear that the Church in England, including the Church of England, has been struggling. Yes, wonderful things are happening in and through churches. But alongside that, there are huge problems: we’re maintaining too many buildings; we’re not reaching younger generations; while Christianity is growing worldwide, church attendance in this country has been declining for 200 years; and we’re fast running out of money to fund mission and ministry.

Covid hasn’t caused the churches’ problems - financial or otherwise - but it has made matters worse.  So in Leicester Diocese, the Shaped By God Together process will lead to the introduction of new ways of operating in terms of finances, use of buildings and ministry, whether we like it or not. If you’ve recently been involved in discussions about the way forward, you’ll be aware that many of us (clergy included!) are finding this rather daunting, and it’s difficult to imagine how things will work. 

So how do we manage our fears and frustrations? Well, when I’m at my computer, much of the time I can appreciate the advantages of this method of working; but then the wi-fi signal becomes ‘unstable’ or vanishes, my screen freezes, the Zoom link is wrong, or I can’t access an essential document etc, etc, etc. 

At such moments, it’s easy to become irritable or angry, to take out my annoyance on anyone else who happens to be in the same room (physically or digitally), to look for someone to blame (eg the CofE, the Diocese, the Government, God, or the people who’re inexplicably excited about all the changes…).

The more resentful and bad-tempered I get, the bigger the problems seem to be. But if I pause to pray that the peace of God will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, if I choose to regain an attitude of gratitude and learn more about the secret of being content in any and every situation (like St Paul in Philippians chapter 4), if I slowly breathe out my frustration and breathe in the fresh energy of the Holy Spirit, then it is more likely that the problems in front of me are put in the perspective of the ‘bigger picture’ of God’s Kingdom and new possibilities open up for the way ahead…

Maybe that’s a kind of parable that might teach me (us!) something about how to respond to other aspects of this current time of change and uncertainty? 

Yours In Christ’s service,
 

  mary  The Revd Mary Barr.
 

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