Thursday, 1 December 2011

Parish life fiction and fact

As I mentioned a few postings ago, I have become a fan of "Rev." on BBC2. Last week's, I felt, was a bit weaker. This week, however, it came back with a vengeance. Plot lines involving ecumenism, sexism, pride, jealousy and other aspects of the human and pastoral predicament, after making you wonder where they are going, suddenly come together without warning in an amazing last scene that I couldn't help watching three or four times straight off. Great acting by Tom Hollander and the whole cast, great script. If you're not offended by a few swear words, then make sure to catch it on iPlayer, but don't skip straight to the end, it's worth the 30 minutes journey. Wonderful.
Meanwhile, a few people outside our 3 Churches have been enquiring about our "Vision" process that has been going on through this year. So over the next few postings I'll share stuff about it. Things started back in the New Year when I felt that it was time for a pastoral overhaul of things 3 Churches. We had redecorated the outside of St Brigid's and extended and refurbished Christ the King Parish Centre. Time for something more pastoral! 
I recalled a "dream exercise" led by Fr Tony Nolan with our two Parish Councils some years ago. We were invited to dream our ideal parish and then note down how it would be different to the present. I tried this with our two Councils and then across all seven of our weekend Masses... This timetable takes up the story.,..
January My prayer and reflection on where our 3 churches “are at” suggest a major review of our pastoral life.
February I share these thoughts with our 2 Parish Councils, inviting them to share their “dream parishes”. This involves my leading a prayerful reflection: they fall asleep on Saturday, and dream that the parish has become their perfect one; they find that on Sunday this has become the reality, and then write down what is different from the present reality. This avoids too heady an approach, and hopefully catches a word from the Lord via his people! (acknowledgements to Tony Nolan for the exercise!) We also decide to move towards one 3 Churches Pastoral Council, supported by smaller bodies in each parish.
March  I repeat the “dream exercise” during all Sunday Masses homilies, with a very large response. The councils collate and reduce all the responses down to one Statement (attached). We decide to set up the new Pastoral Council by Easter.
Maundy Thursday At joint 3 Churches Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Corpus Christi School I speak, in the context of service, about the Vision, and commission 8 members of the 2 Parish Councils as the new 3 Churches Pastoral council. Their first task is to continue and implement the Vision process.
June All parishioners invited to sign a book in each church containing the Vision statement, in order to continue their ownership of the project. The Pastoral Council reflects on how to move from vision to reality.
September All parishioners invited to express willingness to get involved in one of the 4 main areas that had emerged in the process. Then a Forum evening held at Corpus Christi with the 4 resulting groups produces practical ideas and targets. The Pastoral Council refines them into decisions and actions, with at least one from each group for implementation by Christmas.
November  We publish and “sell” the decisions via newsletter and pulpit. First group of actions starts.
2012  Second group of decisions/actions happen, and work on “Big Ideas” begins.

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