I realise I haven’t yet returned to the issue of infant baptism – that will have to wait for another time!
In the meanwhile, I think it’s important to share what’s been happening in the way of growing links with other churches. I talked about the event in Devonport Park with Morice Town Salvation Army and Devonport Baptist. Out of that grew our first leaders’ lunch – hopefully one of many. It was useful to discover what each church was doing, where they saw their priorities and to sketch out ways we could work together. Not by having a load of extra meetings which add to our already busy schedules. But by promoting each other’s activities, using the park as a shared space for community building and outreach, and simply by praying for each other. This seemed to be a good and sensible way forward.
Then last Saturday we had the first event for adults with learning difficulties, which was hosted by St Michael’s. It was a lovely event, made possible by the hard work of volunteers of many different churches working together. The event not only engaged those who participated, it also, I believe, deepened the bonds of friendship and fellowship across a whole spectrum of churches as we worked towards a common goal.
Then last night we had a meeting of the three deanery synods at All Saints Academy. Legally, the church of England is bound to have deanery synods (although they only narrowly avoided being abolished 13 years ago). So what purpose could they serve? It still wasn’t completely clear at the end of the evening, but at least we all agreed we needed to cluster together to be engaged in mission and service to the city.
However I couldn’t help reflect that the best kind of local fellowship isn’t generated by structures, but by the organic coming together to serve the Lord in a common goal. That’s what’s happened with the Devonport Park events, and with the Prospects Group. The Lord opened our eyes to a need, we followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and we proclaimed Christ. Maybe that will happen through one synod serving the whole of Plymouth, but I am not sure the time is any time soon. I would, however, love to be proved wrong!