Last night I visited the village of Donington-on-Bain, which is a quintessentially beautiful and very English village nestling in a fold of the Lincolnshire Wolds, to meet with the PCC of the local group of parishes.
Encouragingly the parishes are looking to their future. We had a very positive conversation about possibilities for the future and how to sustain the mission and ministry of the parishes in a changing context for the church’s ministry. It was not an evening for making decisions, but once again I encountered the deep and fundamental support which exists for the church within these communities.
There are always those ready to write the obituary for the church, but they fail to recognize the faith and commitment of people such as those whom I met last night. When we face the challenges of the future, then the church will always be robust and will continue to witness within its communities. It is only when we resist the future and try to work in ways which deny the realities facing the church that we become vulnerable, for then we become introspective and absorbed with secondary issues about being church, rather than being servants of a Gospel of hope.
The Gospel of hope is just so much more attractive than the council of despair which can at times be heard from the church – indeed that gospel of hope is also quintessentially beautiful.