At the beginning of 2018 the members and friends of City URC began to reflect on their shared history and thoughts for the future. Their stories were collected and presented as a ‘timeline’ on the wall in the main Church, excerpts from which will be serialised here.
After completing a 20 year ministry at Beulah, we had to decide which Church we might attend in retirement.
With the encouragement of
John Humphreys and Tom Arthur, and after “shopping around”, we decided on City.
We duly extended into the City experience. Particularly memorable was the
disturbing presence of one man with mental health issues and the attempts of
Elders to deal with the situation.
We also became aware of
attempts to introduce an ‘open and affirming’ policy: not exclusively LGBT, but
I remember a Church meeting
in the Upper Room a tense affair, well attended when it was discussed and
agreed. I was impressed by the way some older members took this on board.
It was followed by what
appeared as a “growth movement” when new people began to appear in Church,
attracted by the open and affirming policy.
I found a particularly moving
occasion when Stephen and Paul had a wedding blessing. Something special seemed
to be emerging.
Tom then retired and the
Elders set about putting together a pastoral profile with a view to appoint a
new minister to develop the implications of the O & A policy. Getting to
know new people and making new friends I found myself getting more excited
about the opportunities that were in City for creating a real presence of a
dynamic Church with a different perspective of what it means to be a “Church”.
So it was with a hope that
new days lie ahead, developing potential that was emerging that led to the
appointment of Adrian who seem to show a keen understanding of the Church and
its new vision.
For a variety of reasons
that did not happen: the ‘buzz’ died down. Some of the new people fell away.
And all that the profile represented caused unhappy feelings and some divisions
based on disappointment.
Sadly that decline
continued. However a strong sense of community remained, a sense of welcome,
which has continued.
I found myself drawn further
into the life of the church in what might have appeared a vacuum. Without going
into any detail, I found myself functioning as a minister, although not in a
formal capacity and I continue to feel a sense of belonging.
Were we go now as a Church
is the question. The future is uncertain but the opportunity to create a
presence in the City remains – if the right leadership can be found to take us
forward. My time line – but is there time!