Dramas set in England often depict the church as a beautiful old building with a congregation of upright (if not upt ight) parishioners sitting placidly in pews, and a charming, if not also doddering, vicar who visits his flock over cups of tea when not pottering in the garden at the rectory. A quaint picture, and nostalgic to some, but hardly a portrait of a robust faith community.
A modern picture, there as here, would explode that view to include a daily beehive of activity, worship that is anything but staid, and clergy who are more like community organizers than pastoral visitors. In fact, the modern church, when it is highly functional, looks more like a community centre than a sanctuary—more an advance into the world than a retreat from it.
We see this in all the busy activity that starts up this time of year. For church members we offer worship on Sundays, meditation on Tuesdays, Bible study on Thursdays, men’s fellowship monthly on Saturdays, women’s fellowship at the call of the soup-maker, and more than a dozen organizations from choir and chancel guild to parish council and the refugee committee, from the Excellent Adventure to the ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out).
For the wider community we host Brownies and Guides, three recovery groups, several continuing education adult groups, young people’s activities (like the chess club), the community garden, and an exciting array of performing arts groups using our space for concerts and special events. Quaint it ain’t!