The United Benefice of Moseley,
St Mary and St Anne
Office: 25 St Mary’s Row, Moseley, B13 8HW
As part of staying in touch with the worshipping congregations of St Mary’s and St Anne’s, I’m writing to provide an update on a number of matters.
Over the past six weeks we have enjoyed hosting Jenni Crewes as an ordinand on placement from the Queens Foundation Theological College. It has been good to have her around and she has been able to engage in a wide range of activities across both churches and the wider community. I’m sure you will join me in prayerfully wishing Jenni well as she prepares for her final year of ordination training. Thanks to everyone who has to helped facilitate her time with us.
As Jenni leaves, so Conan is ordained! This morning in the Cathedral Conan Chitham is being ordained deacon by the Bishop. He has completed his ordination training at Queens and will be joining the benefice as a self-supporting curate. Conan works full-time as a lawyer and also has a family, so his time in the benefice will be limited. Please don’t expect him to appear everywhere and at everything! Conan will be helping in leading worship and preaching as well as putting into practice the things learned at Theological College in other areas of ministry. If all goes well in this diaconal year, Conan will be ordained priest in a year’s time.
A hallmark of a healthy and growing church is the nurturing of vocations. Hazel has been doing some careful work with a handful of folk who have been exploring a range of vocational responses to God’s call on their life. Is this something you might like to explore? If so please speak to Hazel. One of the outcomes of these explorations is that Mark Simons has offered for Reader ministry and has been recommended by the diocese to begin training this autumn. Training is contextual and Mark will remain anchored within the benefice for most of the time but will go elsewhere on placement when the training requires it. Please do pray for Jenni, Conan and Mark at these times of significant transition.
Our second Growing Leaders course has just finished with a dozen or so people completing a year’s training. I am grateful to Liz Blakey and Hazel for facilitating the course and to all the participants for engaging so enthusiastically and with such commitment. It is interesting to see how those who ‘graduated’ last year are now feeding through into different positions of leadership within the benefice and helping to enrich our common life together. It is also a wonderful encouragement to see how people have grown on their discipleship journey as they have learned more about God, their faith and themselves.
The range of activities that were on offer over the HMQ90 weekend was amazing. Many thanks to Moseley C of E School for hosting afternoon tea. The Art Exhibition at St Anne’s had over 100 exhibits and a steady stream of visitors all day – many of whom bought one of the exhibits! My thanks go to Sonia and Steph for organising it. St Mary’s hosted a Moseley Churches Together Flower Festival and that too brought many into the church. On the Sunday we enjoyed a Community Choir leading worship at St Mary’s and were privileged to hear a wonderful piece written by Mick Perrier for the occasion.
We look forward to welcoming Bishop David to St Mary’s to confirm a number of folk in the Christian faith on Sunday 11 December. I am grateful to Glyn Samuel and to Hazel for leading our folk through the preparation material for this important rite of passage and entry into full membership of the church. It’s exciting to see such a large group coming forward – another encouraging sign and further cause to give thanks to God. Our monthly Messy Church activity happens on the fourth Sunday of each month at St Anne’s and utilises both the church and the hall. Numbers are growing – have you tried it out? It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to worship, learn and eat together. If you want more details please see Tammy or one of the other Messy Church coordinators.
Did you know that at he rear of St Anne’s Hall there is a peace garden (access to the right of the hall)? Have you visited it? A quiet space to reflect and pray for those in need of peace or reconciliation or to give thanks for peace restored. Or simply a reflective spot to ‘be’. The peace garden is in need of revitalisation and Jenny Allen is leading a group to bring new life to it. If you’d like to help in some way, please have a word with Jenny.
Last weekend saw a highly successful Churchyard open day with more than 500 people coming through St Mary’s and enjoying all of the fun activities. Our project to improve access and create a sacred space open to all in the heart of Moseley is progressing well. Contracts have been signed and work will begin in earnest in mid-July to transform and improve the churchyard. New pathways, lighting, handrails and flora will be going in over the next months and into next year. Even with contractors on site, access to the church building will always be available although areas of the churchyard will be out-of-bounds as they are worked on. My thanks go to the Project Manager Becky Greenhill and her team for all the hard work over many years that have got us this point.
Since January we have been engaging in a period of listening and reflecting in an attempt to discern what kind of worshipping community the benefice is being called to be. Our Lent groups helpfully fed in to the process as did both PCCs at a recent PCC away day when we explored what we considered to be the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each parish. All of this data is on the benefice website – if you haven’t already, please do have a look.
As you know, we are two separate parishes within a united benefice. Both PCCs have recently begun to explore what things might look like if we were to move towards a single parish. Things are still at an early stage and nothing will be decided soon – but in some ways it’s a bit like prayerfully conducting a courtship with about 30 people on the date! Please do pray for grace and sensitivity to the voice of God as those charged with the spiritual leadership of our two parishes reflect together.
It was a great privilege to welcome David Briggs to St Mary’s in May to launch the organ renovation appeal and a huge thank you to the trustees for organising the event and to everyone who came along - especially those who have given so generously. As you may have worked out, I am no musician and if like me you think the organ sounds great that is simply a testament to those who so skilfully play it and coax every ounce of expression from a tired and ageing instrument. Have you looked at the pictures by the welcome desk at St Mary’s? If you haven’t, please do and you will see how antique the wiring and other components are. They are in desperate need of replacement. More details are on the benefice website.
It has been good over recent months to develop links with the community who worship at KSIMC Clifton Road Mosque in Balsall Heath. There have been a number of visits to the mosque and St Mary’s and we greatly enjoyed sharing a curry lunch with visitors on Easter Sunday after morning worship together. Once Ramadan has finished, we are being invited to attend a meal and a seminar at the mosque when we will explore the spiritual benefits of fasting! Keep an eye on the pew sheet for details.
As you can see there is so much to be thankful to God for. I hope you have a restorative and blessed time over the summer. Please do pray for the leadership of our benefice and thank God for his love.
With all best wishes,
Sunday 26 June 2016