We spoke to Revd Ed, Minister for the Conventional District of Hamilton, who is part of the Minster Community formation process in Pilot 3. He chats to us about how the process is going from his perspective and where he is seeing God at work.
Name, Church, Role
Revd Ed Down, Minister for the Conventional District of Hamilton, Hope Hamilton Church
Where are you at in the Minster Community formation process?
Pilot area, North East Leicester, at the end of Stage 2 of the process.
We gathered stories and ideas from the church before bringing them together with the other churches in the proposed MC. We spent time over April – July meeting in working groups across six areas to start to understand in more detail what our MC could look like. Proposals will come to our churches in Autumn 2023.
How is it going?
The first part of Phase 1 was quite intense – a lot of meetings in a short period of time to get us all on (roughly) the same page. It was helpful to have a variety of PCC members come along to the meetings and then to feed back to each other so that a number of people got the chance to meet and talk with other churches.
Looking at the speed dials (conversation prompts) together has been a helpful exercise and generated a lot of discussion in our PCC. It has been much harder to get wider church involvement though – people don’t seem to connect with much of the process despite the time we are spending and the explanations we give at every opportunity. It seems hard for many, including those in leadership, to grasp Diocesan level strategy and projects (and I don’t think this is just limited to SBGT!) So, whilst we are engaging with it and have had some good discussions, it has taken up a lot of time and energy from me and key leaders.
This has continued into Stage 2 with working groups across the MC being formed and meeting together. It has been difficult to encourage church members to engage with what is perceived as a Diocesan project, but those who have been part of a working group have been able to share openly and freely. There is still a lot of work to do at the end of Stage 2 and we still have unresolved questions and concerns, but the facilitating team know what they are. When we get some firmer proposals, there will be more time, discussion, and energy put into refining and discerning together with our PCC and other churches.
Where have you seen God at work?
It has been good to see relationships between churches build through the first few meetings and to see everyone’s understanding of the process grow. After the first meeting, a number of us realised that, though we are a small church, we have a particular gift to offer the proposed MC: our racial diversity. We have a huge mix of backgrounds and cultures at Hope Hamilton and it was quite stark to see our own space filled with white people when it does not look like that on a Sunday! We realised we could bring challenge and a different perspective to the group that was forming, especially as we are part of the IWC project. It has also been good to see members of church offer thoughts and opinions who might not otherwise consider leadership / strategy as part of their gifting.