Back to church today; the flu has given way now mostly to just an annoying headcold, complete with streaming nose and feelings of tiredness, but otherwise back to normal for both the baby and I, so I set my alarm and we were off out the door on time.
Today was a bit different to the usual Sunday morning service, as it was also the Parish AGM – so there were the minutes of last year’s AGM to be signed off, reports from St.Mary’s, St.Stephen’s, St.Gabriel’s and St.Luke’s and elections for various positions to be voted on in and around the usual readings, prayers and hymns, and refreshments happened halfway through instead of at the end (much to Freda’s confusion – she’s not used to us just getting up and wandering around the church to say hello to people and then carrying a drink back to our pew!) – so a change from the usual routine.
It was facinating hearing about the development of St.Luke’s, in particular; St.Luke’s has been going through a lot of changes and taking a new direction. The old church building was in urgent need of rather a lot of repairs and upgrade building work, and it was decided by the diocese that it would be better to sell the old building and use the proceeds to buy somewhere more suited to St.Luke’s need. Selling church property isn’t a fast process however, and so St.Luke’s has found a very different direction. It has become a Mission Church and moved out into the community.
Which begs the question: what do I mean by “Mission Church”? Well, for a start, St.Luke’s is not a church plant – it is not a core of people from a congregation setting up a new mission – it is a church in transition, and the whole church has moved out to explore new paths in the community – specifically the High Street in Walthamstow.
It does this in a number of ways; there is the Farmer’s Market every Sunday (10am-2pm), and St.Luke’s has a stall on the market where they sell refreshments to the public as well as providing free tea and coffee to the market holders. There is also the regular Sunday discussion group at the Pop-In Cafe on the High Street. They gather on Wednesdays at the houses of various congregation members in turn to celebrate Communion together, and volunteers from St.Luke’s work with the Christian Kitchen on Tuesday evenings, providing meals for the homeless of Walthamstow. They’re looking at manning a market stall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the market in addition to the current Sunday Farmer’s Market.
It’s not clear what the future holds for St.Luke’s; the effects and fittings of the old building need to be disposed of first before the sale can take place. Conservative estimates are that it will be the end of 2009 before the old church building can be put on the market, and it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take to sell. What will happen then is uncertain; the purchase of a more suitable building for a new St.Luke’s church in the High Street – or perhaps the money will be used to further St.Luke’s evangelical mission in the High Street. We can but wait and see.
Not all of the congregation of St.Luke’s have found this an easy transition to make, and many congregants have been absorbed into the other churches in the parish – St.Mary’s, St.Stephen’s and St.Gabriel’s. But St.Luke’s still has a vibrant, energetic and forward-looking congregation, under the able and enthusiastic direction of their pastor, Reverend Tony Cant (who is very much a larger-than-life, bouncy New Zealander). It will be interesting to see what the future holds for St.Luke’s in the High Street.