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One of the themes that has been ever present as I've moved from festivals, to worship places, to Westminster College has been the sense of being part of a community. Each festival had its own ethos and its own rules (written and unwritten), each of the established festivals had people for whom this was their place/home/identity - artists who belonged, a sense of involvement in their place and time. In each place it was a coming together of people to create a temporary community in that location - yet each has a sense of permanence which has grown through their long term engagement with that place, and with the music and with the each other. In much the same way each church engages with its own community - attenders, fringe and to some extent or another those in whose midst they are set and each has at the same time been open to an occasional stranger.

At the moment a new community is coming together at Westminster College, it has elements of the community that was here 3 months ago - place, people, traditions - but they are now engaging with new people, new experiences, a slightly changed building, new conversations and this old institution is being reformed. 

One of the best bits of our Vision4Life conversations at both Hallfold and St. Andrew's was to hear people tell their faith journey's - we heard some wonderful stories there was much to draw from them, but one of the themes that came over time and time again was the importance of belonging to a community - and it was when we found ourselves in a community to which we belonged that our sense of God's presence with us grew and developed. My earliest memories were at St. Mark's, Wythenshawe - as a child I was encouraged to join in - stacking chairs, reading the bible, sorting jumble, following the band, calling a Minister and so much more that is lost in the mist of time. We moved on when I was 10, to a church at which I was always an outsider and it was only when we moved  to Bolton when I was 15 that I again became part of a church community to which I will always belong - I found people who encouraged me, people in conversation with one another and with God and with the place in which we gathered and who brought me into the conversation. It was these formative communities that have allowed me to grow and become part of other specific communities and part of the wider communion of those who stride, tiptoe, race, stagger, leap, limp, crawl, carry, ride along the way of Jesus.

And as I ponder the nature of community and worship and mission I'm finding two words follow me - Engagement and Conversation - and I have a scribble page with comments and arrows that are saying something like this:-

Worship = engagement with God

Worship = engagement with God + context + praxis.

Mission = conversation involving God's story

Community and Worship and Mission engage with one another where we are in conversation with God, Scripture, context, community, 

Engagement involves doing

Conversation is with and about God

Mission = conversation

and I thought it all might sit neatly in a venn diagram or something - but it doesn't!

as ever - I'm thinking out loud, so if anyone wants to engage in the conversation, please do.


  • Have a good time at Westminster and,if you're still there, say hello to my kid sister (Findy) who is a third year doing her internship year. Two ministers in two denominations in one family - scary!

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