A message from Fr. Chris as Ordinary Time continues and we look toward Growing Our Mission at St. Cross...
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we continue to journey together through Ordinary Time and as our children look forward (or not) to the start of the next academic year, we as a church family will be turning our minds and hearts to how we might develop our mission over the coming years.
A church that understands its context, actively engages with it and with those who might not currently go to church is more likely to be a growing church. Prayerfully we will endeavour to gain a better understanding of the area our church is serving so that we might tailor our outreach to the needs and opportunities of our parish. We hope to be able to listen to the people in our community, taking time to visit the central gathering points or places of importance, to glean information about how people in our community perceive our church. Perhaps, in doing this, we will discover partner agencies in the parish with whom we can collaborate and grow mission to the wider community.
Careful and prayerful listening will not just happen outside the church walls but will also happen from within the body of the church. There will be many opportunities to for us to think about where our beloved church is strong and where it might need to strengthen its mission. From this we hope will emerge a clear and ambitious vision, one which will guide us in choosing and formulating priorities which will in turn support the diocese’s vision of:
Growing new disciples in missionary church communities which are younger, more diverse, active and spiritually engaged
Nurturing increasing vocations, nurturing new and existing disciples, increasing financial giving
Serving present for all, speaking and acting prophetically for justice, supporting pastorally especially the vulnerable, deprived and excluded
By the early part of next year, we aim to have a clear plan which will enable us to achieve the goals we set out to achieve.
Having said this, there are already exciting things happening:
In September we will launch our fortnightly Sunday School. St Cross Sunday School will be coordinated jointly by Lisa Kimpton and Joanne Owens (recently co-opted onto the PCC) and they will be supported in delivering a programme by at least four other volunteers. The aim of the school will be to help children learn the whole bible- from Genesis to Revelation. Sessions will be delivered through a variety of activities, video clips, arts and crafts, songs, games and more and we hope that the school will give children the foundation for a lifetime of faith.
Our Foodbank has gone from strength to strength and we are currently in communication with another agency which donates in-date food so that we may extend our provision. We continue to give our heartfelt thanks to Asda, McGee, as well as many individual members of the congregation who donate both food and money. Scripture is rich in passages which directly or indirectly emphasize the necessity of contributing towards the welfare of the needy and much of almsgiving given by members of St Cross is done discretely and cheerfully, such is the goodness and kindness of within our community. On a personal level, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to all who contribute to this vital outreach.
As mentioned in my notices recently we are also planning to work with One Manchester in providing a group of volunteers to run a Community Grocer project in the Community Centre on Barrington Street. More information about this exciting project will be given out as and when I hear more.
From October 6th 2017 until April 27th 2018, St Cross will work with the The Boaz Trust in running its first ever night shelter for destitute asylum seeking and refugee women. The Boas Trust has been running a men’s night shelter for nearly 10 years now, with the help of various churches over that time. The success of the men’s Boaz Night Shelter (BNS) will be the foundation upon which the women’s BNS will be built. St Cross will be one of seven churches to provide food, hospitality and accommodation nightly to 12 women for seven months, with St. Cross opening it's doors on Friday nights from early evening to 8am the following morning. The women will be provided with simple ground mats and sleeping bags. A hot meal will be provided each night, and breakfast will be available before departure. We are indebted to Joanne Owens who has also agreed to help coordinate this project with me. The shelter is only for destitute asylum seekers and refugees. Access is by referral only, from agreed agencies such as the Red Cross, Revive, Rainbow Haven, Cornerstone etc. All of the guests are assessed for suitability and it is hoped that while the women remain in the shelter, suitable move-on accommodation is found for them at some stage, and that the women be signposted for other needs such as dentists, GPs and solicitors.
For this project to run smoothly we will be looking for volunteers. There are a number of interesting ways in which anyone can be involved, depending on availability and commitment. They are –
Co-ordination: Liaising with Boaz, co-ordinating volunteers.
Reception: Being there to welcome the guests, helping with the meal and generally being around to chat. This is normally between 8.00pm(approx.) and 10pm.
Cooking and serving the evening meal: this can be done on-site or the meal can be brought pre-cooked.
Overnight supervision: Two volunteers are required to stay overnight.
Breakfast: This can be done by the overnight volunteers or someone different. A simple breakfast of cereal/toast is usually sufficient.
Driving: For locations further afield we need drivers to pick up the clients from the city centre in the early evening, and possibly some to drop them off in the morning.
Laundry: Week to week, sleeping bag liners, pillow cases and towels need washed and returned ready for use.
If you are interested in volunteering please speak to me (Fr Chris) or Joanne Owens.
Holy Cross Day falls on Thursday Sep 14th. We will keep our patronal festival on Sunday September 17th. St Cross will also be open to the public, the weekend of the 9th and 10th September as part of the annual Heritage Open Days event.
And finally, it gives me great joy to announce that on October 29th 2017 at 3pm, St Cross will be holding a Pet Blessing Service. Our guest speaker for that service is Daryl Booth, the founder of Sarx ,a Christian animal welfare organisation which rightly encourages Christians to strive toward a world in which all animals are enabled to live with dignity, freedom and peace. Daryl will also be holding a Q&A session in the Lady Chapel after the service. I am praying that the church will be full to bursting with all of God’s wonderful creatures including my own two Isserley and Tommy, so let’s get the word out.