100 years ago an article appeared in the Doncaster Gazette showing the design for the new Church of All Saints in Woodlands. On All Saints Day, 1st November, that year Charles Thelluson of Brodsworth Hall laid the foundation stone. If you notice the design for the spire changed – we are trying to track down the true story of the spire for our centenary celebrations in 2013.
On a clear day look up from Woodlands and Highfields and what can you see – Vapour trails from the planes heading off to foreign parts like the USA, Canada, France or even Leeds!.
A friend told me today that:
“Every Christian should leave a vapour trail.
We should know where we’ve come from,
and where we are going.
The vapour trail is so everyone can see!”
Just this last week 11 people left a vapour trail through All Saints when they stood before the Bishop and made a declaration that they would follow Jesus. All of them were prayed for by Bishop Steven that they would be empowered by God to do what Jesus did – to love people, to share the good news and see our world transformed by the presence of God.
All of us can leave a vapour trail – when we care for people around us, when we don’t let people get bullied or hurt by others, when we stand up for “what is lovely and pure and honest”, when we don’t let others get trampled in the rush for wealth or power or popularity. When we act like the words Jesus said mean something!
And those vapour trails mean that others can see where we came from – we don’t hide our pasts – every sinner has a past, but every saint has a future. Our direction of travel is clear. We are following Jesus – he has led us out of the darkness we used to live in and towards a future which he has promised.
Someone else wrote “Being Spiritually alone in this frighteningly cruel and hurtful world is highly over-rated. I plump to have God on my side every time.:)” – I couldn’t agree more!
At the APCM in 2009 I shared a vision for All Saints having people working in four key areas of pastoral and missional ministry – Children & Families, Youth, Addiction and The Elderly. Since then I have in my own thoughts added a fifth strand, Poverty & Debt. I feel very strongly that as disciples of Jesus we are called to care for the community he has placed us in – showing his love through practical acts of love and kindness. In Matthew 25 the test of whether we “know” Jesus is how we have behaved to the poor, the outcast, the prisoner, the sick and the hungry. Many of the Church family are already involved in these sorts of ministries but I believe that we can increase our involvement and impact.
I believe we are at a key moment, where as a Church family we need to take a step of faith in reaching out with the love of Jesus into our community in new and practical ways. The PCC has agreed in principle that we seek to set up a charitable trust, which is financially independent from the PCC, with the express purpose of providing a “functional structure” through which we can then seek funding to employ people to meet the community needs which we identify – the headline ideas I shared are neither a complete list of what we could do, nor the only possibilities.
The name chosen for the new trust is aspire would be organised as a separate financial entity, with trustees selected by All Saints PCC and including community representatives if they so desired. As with many trusts there would be a “Council of Reference” – a separate body which can advise, oversee, and encourage the work. There is a possibility of us getting funding for someone working as a project overseer, a “Community Catalyst” – for two or three days a week – with the aim of establishing aspire as a trust, identifying the first areas for engagement, seeking funding for the first workers and then managing the work of the trust.
I believe that the current circumstances mean that this is the ideal time to establish a new approach to ministry in our villages. Big Lottery Funding is coming into the village, and we need to have the structures in place now to enable us to use the opportunities to see “God’s love in action in Woodlands and Highfields”. I believe that the establishment of aspire will put us in a strong position to do this.
Please pray for the way forward, please consider if you would like to be involved in setting up the trust and acting as a trustee. We can only do this properly if we do it together, with one another and with Jesus