This time last year we were preparing to close the Nave for 12 weeks, as we repaired the stone floor, and took the opportunity for some minor re ordering. We’ve been enjoying the new space and exploring how to use it in many different contexts. It has certainly improved our worship, providing a lovely new dais which brings the altar of God further forward and nearer the people, and given its shape, we can now stand around it to receive Holy Communion. It feels that slowly we are getting used to this new way of receiving, and I’d gladly receive feedback on how you think this is working? It has also improved the acoustics, having removed carpet and wood, to be replace by new stone, creating a more resonate sound. I hope that in this year we might begin to move towards a new altar, lectern, and choir stalls – following design and fundraising. The new space has allowed significant flexibility, on many other fronts, most of which have worked really well for us, and we hope will make us more sustainable in the long term.
In December John Hardy and Tracy Lee spoke on a Sunday Sermon slot about some of the challenges facing the Minster in 2017. This was about human capacity and finances. Over the past few years, the Minster has been rich in terms of Clergy resource, but times are hard for the national Church, and the two Stipendiary Curates will not be replaced, placing a huge burden on me and the other team members. This provides as opportunity for more lay participation, in taking responsibility for the leading of worship where Clergy can legally do so, and enable me in particular, be somewhere else on occasions. Equipping and enabling the whole people of God to play their rightful role in the life of the community will be an important theme as we move forward together. The Minster Finances remain vulnerable, and there is currently a review taking place of current policy and practice, making sure we are as smart as we can be, and making some helpful suggestions as to how we can plan carefully for the next few years and beyond.
At the end of next month the Church Council has a residential weekend, to reflect on the achievements of the last few years, and to firm up the new Development Plan for 2017 – 2020. Strong Benedictine themes which have guided the Minster for 900 years will be revisited, and will provide a structure for God’s mission for the next few years. With all the changes taking place across the town over the next few years, there will be lots of new opportunities for the Minster to grasp, and we hope a fruitful time ahead.
Please pray for the Minster as we work collectively together, that God will be with us in our corporate listening, discussions, and decision making. We need everyone to play their part, not just a few, and then we might start to make some exciting head way as we fulfil our mission statement: seeking God, sharing Faith, and serving Halifax.