PROGRESS & DIFFICULTIES SINCE 2013
This has run successfully until 2016 when lack of numbers meant the event was cancelled. This was the first time in seven years and may have been due to the midweek start to the school holidays resulting in many families being absent. The parishes intend to run the event in 2017.
Discipleship Courses & House Groups
While we have run a number of house groups there has been a mixed response, and perhaps less than expected development in discipleship. Many who attend still expect either a reader or the vicar to lead the group; there has been little in the way of continuation or development of house groups
Messy Church has been a great success and continues to grow. This has been in collaboration with Alnmouth Methodist Church who have provided funding and support. Messy church began in 2014 with two preliminary meetings in the Methodist Chapel, Alnmouth. By January 2015 it was established as a monthly event and by necessity of numbers it had to move to the Hindmarsh Hall. There are over 80 people (adults and children) registered and new families are attending every month.
St John the Baptist, Alnmouth
Pastoral Visiting Teams, especially Bereavement Visiting, has not been established; a working party was started but has failed to develop. There have been unexpected developments in the form of Healing Services which culminated in a Healing Study Day at Alnmouth Friary with Divine Healing Ministries of Northern Ireland leading the event in October 2016.
There is a youth club running in the village established by the Methodist Church and Alnwick Baptist Church’s youth charity Contagious. The church in Alnmouth has had some but no direct contact with this group and has not pursued its own youth agenda.
We continue to have good and growing contact with Alnmouth Methodist Church. In 2015 a Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up to formalise our joint collaborations, particularly as regards the use of our church buildings for meetings and services.
The church is now without churchwardens as no candidates were put forward, and has re-assessed the duties and roles of church officers and members.
St Mary, Lesbury
Very little has changed at Lesbury. There has been no new arrangement made for storage, and it has not proved practical to provide hospitality after Sunday services due to the late time of the service.
The Church has struggled to establish a Garden of Remembrance, due to difficulties in envisioning the project; this has now been further complicated by issues surrounding the future extension of the churchyard.
This church is also without churchwardens, but has made some progress in re-assessing the duties and roles of church officers and members.
St Peter & St Paul, Longhoughton
The tower area is still to be developed; this has been delayed by the need for extensive restoration of the tower roof.
The church has regularly reviewed the style and content of Sunday Worship on the first Sunday of each month; the time was moved from 4.00pm to 11.00am in an attempt to attract better attendance. However, more focussed events, eg the Queen’s Birthday and Harvest Festival, which were put on in the mid-afternoon have proved popular.
There has been discussion about holding a Youth Café style service but this has not been developed.
An inter-denomination house group takes place in the village, with up to five or six members of Aln and Coastlands congregations attending each week.
St Michael, Howick
St Michael’s church in Howick provides place of quiet for those visiting the Howick Hall Gardens, as well as functioning as a parish church. Mid-week daily prayer on a Thursday has proved popular with visitors as a place to reflect and listen to scripture and pray for their needs if they wish.
The Howick Heritage Group has been able to put on exhibitions in the church. A very informative display about Howick families linked with WW1 commemorations has proved especially popular.
WORKING TOWARDS A PLAN
Exploring the marks of a healthy church…
The Aln and Coastland Parishes are taking the growing of a healthy church seriously. Through the summer the congregations have been asked to think about the Seven Marks of a Healthy Church and how these are expressed in our churches.
Robert Warren has led our thinking in two study sessions, the core of which challenged us to re-think how we are church and how we can apply the UP – IN – OUT .
UP - is the full engagement with God to make him the centre of our lives both individually and corporately. Through reading Scripture and in prayers, our decisions and actions are to be founded in God, in our PCCs, in our worship and in all our planning, so that we are shaped in the goodness and generosity that we see in Jesus Christ.
IN - is the expression of the knowledge of God by the way of Jesus Christ, so that the life of the church may recognise that we are called to play a part with fellow believers in giving expression to the image of God revealed in the life of Christ.
OUT - is the fundamental call to bring the Good News to all people. It is expressed through our engaging in God’s purposes in the world. It involves the sharing of God’s love for his creation in our daily living, and by setting creation free from oppressive and seductive forces which draw people away from God’s loving purpose.
The Aln and Coastland parishes are just beginning in their journey to grow and develop their churches. We are beginning a time of when we can “be” God’s people in order that we may “do” his work.
To do this we will follow the suggested study sessions in “Developing Healthy Churches” by Robert Warren.
At the same time we will seek to understand God’s will for these Parishes through Bible Study and Prayer so that we can learn how to serve these communities as Christ would.
It is important that we first understand our Goals before we determine the Means by which the goals can be achieved.
MISSION ACTION PLAN: 2016
The Aln and Coastland Parishes do not yet have a Mission Action Plan as such!
In the light of the absence of churchwardens in two parishes we are looking at new ways to be churches in the light of the recent work with Robert Warren. We believe that are on the way to discerning a new future for these Parishes that can be expressed in terms of the Diocesan priorities.
We aim to develop our Mission Action Plans as we progress. Thus we will always have a living, working plan that is a true reflection of the Church, the body of Christ.
PCC members from each of the parishes who met with the Archdeacon in October agreed that the Joint PCC should be re-constituted so that it can meet and function regardless of the current lack of churchwardens. This will need to be confirmed by each individual PCC. When this is done the primary purpose of the JPCC will be to define, facilitate and monitor the mission of the Aln and Coastland Parishes.
If we understand suffering to be whenever we are not in control, then we see why some form of suffering is absolutely necessary to teach us how to live beyond the illusion of control and to give that control back to God and the flow of reality.