St Mary’s Vision Update
The jigsaw is beginning to come to life! 7 pieces of the vision, all very different, are all beginning to take form. Some more quickly than others; as some are very long term and others we are able to put into the picture much more quickly.
We also know there are pieces of the jigsaw which have not become apparent as yet – but let’s be waiting on God for those pieces and responding to them as they become apparent.
The background of the church’s work remains crucial – the ongoing pastoral, children’s, youth, adult, outreach, management and weekly church services. These are the backbone work of our church and the base from which the new vision is coming out from.
The following is an update on what is happening so far.
We thank God that He has given us this vision to work with and we are looking forward to seeing His unfolding plan being worked out in and through us.
Rev David McDougall
Rector of St Mary’s Bletchley
Pioneering New Christian Communities
On September 1st, Rev. Ben and Mrs Esther Thorpe move into their Vicarage in Skye Crescent, Newton Leys. This is so very exciting and marks a brand new start at St Mary’s in terms of pioneering a new Christian community from scratch in part of an unreached area of our Anglican parish.
Ben’s licensing will be on the 21st September at 7.30pm and will be held at the brand new Newton Leys School, which opens its gates in September. This will be conducted by Bishop Alan Wilson and will be a great celebration as a new visionary work begins.
A pioneer church is something that perhaps not many of us will actually attend, as it needs to be a church which reflects its community from the very beginning: however some of us may live there now, or go to live there because of what is occurring, or live in MK and are called by God to be 100% totally committed to that new church.
Ben will be on staff at St Mary’s and on my senior leadership team. He will attend staff meetings and be seriously supported by me and the staff team. At the same time, he will have a huge degree of independence and he may not be seen very much at the St Mary’s church building as his focus will be on Newton Leys.
This part of the jigsaw is very much coming into shape and coming alive. Please pray.
Creating a Strategic Staff Team
Since the vision launch a lot of work has gone into the appointing of a staff team that has the expertise and capacity for the vision ahead.
These are the new staff now on board in our church:
- Matt Beer - Stipendiary Curate
- Sam Muthuveloe - Non Stipendiary Curate
- John Saunders - Retired Clergyman on Staff
- Pete Stone - Weddings and Funerals’ Steward
- Ben Thorpe - Pioneer Vicar Newton Leys
We have some more staff coming on stream:
- Toddlers Ministry Leader (Maternity Cover)
- Children’s Leader (Maternity Cover)
- Community Worker
We are very aware of the need to find someone with fundraising skills to help us find finance for the new Church Community Centre and the Community Worker’s salary. Please pray for this and let us know if you know anyone who could help us in this area. It is a voluntary position and would be a tremendous asset to our team.
Having a staff team that both has the skills that we need in this new time and the capacity to help us extend the work is crucial. One of the key roles for any staff team member is to recruit, train, encourage and build the voluntary teams necessary for their area of the church’s work.
Our staff team will begin a new way of working from the 1st September. Instead of working from our homes we will be working out of what we call a ‘Staff Hub’. This means that we will base ourselves and work from one place – that being the St Mary’s Church Hall. Richard Lyons has been working extremely hard (as ever – for which we are very grateful) to create drop down hot desks so that rooms there can still be multi-functional for office and other uses. This hub working will increase communication both between staff and with us all as a church. It will mean’s that staff do not work in isolation, and that the administration and finance sections will all feel part of one team rather than separate.
Please pray for our staff team daily and for the further members we need to find.
Deepening Our Discipleship
Over the last year we have already had several discipleship courses and with good pick up from us a congregation.
We have looked at areas such as Doctrine, Leadership, Prayer and Pastoral Work.
Our Growing Leaders course is an excellent resource for deepening discipleship and raising up more leaders in the church.
Our Autumn series on Apologetics was very well received and attended, this was based in our evening service. In this we had some incredibly deep study material and it can still be enjoyed through our website if you missed these excellent teachings.
This Autumn we are having a course on the background of the Bible and we are hoping to offer a course on Mission in the coming year.
Andrew Walmsley who is our Director of Discipleship needs to step back while Rachel his wife is being treated for an acute type of Leukaemia. Please pray for Rachel and Andrew and their boys Jack and Tom as this is a very difficult time for them.
Discipleship is something every church in the land is saying that needs to be a priority, as commitment to Christ in the West is at a very low ebb. We all need to take responsibility for our own discipleship. Whilst courses, sermons and home groups can help – we essentially need to read or listen to teaching on a daily basis. This can be achieved through the Internet, attending Christian Conferences (for example Spring Harvest, New Wine, Soul Survivor, Keswick, Naturally Supernatural) and through buying/reading Christian literature. In the end of the day it is our own responsibility to become deeply disciplined disciples of Jesus. But of course, we as a church of St Mary’s want to help as much as possible.
Please pray for this area of the vision and for us to offer the most useful discipleship courses.
Renewing our Community Church Yard
We have made an excellent start to making our churchyard a place of beauty, honour and reflection, rather than a sad place of overgrowth and dilapidation.
Some hugely attended Church Action Days helped us clear the overgrowth!
Some professional designs have been created, presented and consultation has properly occurred amongst us and the community.
As a result of this process, trees and scrub have been removed with full support of the parish, council and diocese. This has cleared the sightlines of our beautiful church building and the land is now being prepared for the new plans to be implemented.
One of the present arduous tasks being undertaken is the listing of all the dilapidated and uncared for graves. This will then be presented to the Diocesan Chancellor as a faculty and after some diocesan visits and consultation we will begin to take advice and action on the best way forward.
I hope that you will understand, as I explained many times to begin with, – the church yard will look worse before it gets better. It already looks much clearer and the approach to the church is becoming much greener – thanks to Richard’s team and the Romanian team who worked on this recently!
Under the wonderful Cedar tree at the back of church we are going to have a circular seat dedicated to Chris Dayton – do talk to Richard Dayton about this special project.
We are working on what the long term approach (pathway) to the church will look like and the possibility of a glazed door in the church porch so that people can see in and the heat cannot escape out!
There will be times when it seems we have stopped working on the churchyard because you cannot see any recent change. But the reality is that much is going on behind the scenes and, as with the trees, we need to pray for favour with the authorities to be able to renew and restore the next phase of this long term project.
Please continue to pray for the ongoing nature of this wonderful part of our vision.
Building a Church Community Centre
As we can all imagine this part of the vision is not going to happen quickly, and although we have begun we are at the very staring line.
The vision here is to have built something that will be both useful now and perhaps more importantly be something we leave for future decades/generations that will serve our community well.
The process has begun and what is called the ‘Church Hall Steering Group’ has been created and is being chaired by Oliver Hermes (Church Warden). On this group is Mike Wallis, Chris Day, Catherine Butt, Richard Lyons, Pam Lambert and myself.
We have been examining the usage of our present two church halls and at the financial value of the St John’s Church Hall site.
At present we are working on what the building needs to be like in terms of usage and how the finances might begin to be raised for such a significant project.
We are presently preparing a brief for the work and then looking for a group of architects to submit some initial drawings for our perusal. We are actively looking for a voluntary fundraiser that might help us begin the funding adventure.
We would really appreciate your prayers as we begin this process towards creating a Church Community Centre that will house what we are wanting to do now and have capacity for ministries that will begin in the future years ahead.
Serving Our Community
As a church we love to serve our community. This is not something new to St Mary’s because we are already serving some local needs through ministries such as Toddlers, Food Cupboard and Oasis.
Since we launched the vision we are now offering through the charity Milton Keynes Money Life Line some debt advice at The Frank Moran Centre at Melrose in West Bletchley.
Our desire is to appoint a Community Worker who will both coordinate and develop our community work, at some point starting initiatives such as a café and drugs help group.
In the long term we would like to run these ministries from our Church Community Centre but until that point we will base ourselves out in community buildings or our present church halls.
Let’s pray for this part of our overall vision, for a good ministry appointment and an increased engagement within our community.