Pastoral Letter (November 2017)
from Claire Knight
In September, for the first time, we were part of the Wokingham's Heritage Open Days. It gave us a fantastic opportunity to display the exhibition celebrating 200 years of Methodism in the town. Believe it or not, this was the first time that I really looked at the display boards so carefully researched and assembled by Dorothy Adams and her team. It dawned on me then that this is not the first time that Wokingham Methodist Church and indeed Methodist Churches all over the country and probably the world have faced a time of change in our local surroundings. The photographs of groups of Church members and Ministers standing defiantly amidst these changes brought to mind how we are all responding to our town's evolving footprint.
I am currently reading a book 'Appreciating Church' which applies the business model of 'Appreciative Inquiry' to Churches. The book talks about how when we focus on the negatives around and within our Church, we will continue to accumulate negativity, we will share that negativity with our community and we will get negative results as people will stop coming to us and will become tired of our behaviour and lack of resilience.
If we take more time to notice the good things in our church of which there are many, we appreciate the gifts we have and our blessings in who we are and what we do, those blessings will too appreciate. It is in fact proven that appreciating what we have is actually good for our own mental wellbeing, studies show that those who overcome negativity and immerse themselves in what they have rather than what they don't have, have brains that perform better! This is called 'The Happiness Advantage'.
I sometimes despair as much as anyone else at the disruption we are in the middle of, but I am eager to take time to consider how in my role we can serve people in our community with acts of kindness by being positive and open.
We are so fortunate to be a church situated in the centre of what will soon be a thriving pedestrian area, slap bang in the middle of a traditional market town – parking or no parking this will be the place to be and it will present us with countless opportunities to show the hospitality and love of Jesus in this place!
In the words of 19th Century Methodist Minister Johnson Oatman:
'Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what the Lord hath done.'
My challenge to all of us, next time we are frustrated about the changing environment we are currently in, is for us to see how we will be led to be resilient and cherish what we have as we go forward, how we will welcome those among us who are facing challenges and struggles, and sometimes what we are doing to make it worth the extra effort it may take to come to us at this time.
Finally, I am sharing with you a cartoon by Dave Walker which says it all!
Church & Community Outreach Team Leader