where to start?

IMG_1615Living on the Peninsula can be fun and vibrant.
Homes are being built so quickly that every day I go on a prayer walk I see something new.
This is not because I have poor observation skills but due to the fact that new things are appearing every day.
In my walk today I counted 20 buildings that are now being built or are inhabited that were not present when I moved here 18 months ago.
In the next 18 months there will be at least another 20 and possibly the starting of a new tube station, designed by the amazing Calatrava.

In this setting I am attempting to work with others to build ‘church community’.
It’s a big challenge … but I came here because I like big challenges and it is what inspires me!
I am, though, looking for people to join me in building community and church here.
This feels like a repetitive post … but people come and go here very regularly …. so it is kind of admissible to ask the same thing every three to six months when anywhere between 20 and 50% of the community could have changed.
if you have just moved to the Peninsula, or know someone who has that may be interested, then please put us in touch with each other.

One thing I notice here that I have not encountered elsewhere is that generally people don’t seem to have ‘habits’ like they have in other communities.
By this I mean in other places if I went somewhere on a set day at a set time I would expect to see some of the same people on a regular basis. Not everyone would be in those laces every week or day, much a significant number of them would be.
In those other places this was how I made contact with people, developed relationships, and eventually made friends.

This community is different … and I have wondered a lot why this might be.
In a lot of other areas new development is built in already existing communities of people so that there is a mix of ‘established’ and ‘new’ people mixing in the community. Here, on the Peninsula, we only seem to have the new … buildings being built on what was once just open factory space … where there was once no community we are trying to establish community.

My question is … as it seems we are needing to start from scratch here …. is

How do people start to build community?
What is the actual spark that gets the fire of community flourishing?

It seems to be that people growing in already established community already have that fire and they work together to keep the flame burning. I wonder whether keeping the fire burning is easier that getting the flame started in the first place. Certainly I remember from camping and ‘survival’ days that we were always told t not let the fire go out once we had it stared.

Could that illustration be relevant here today?
I’d really like to hear from others ‘out there’ who are dealing with similar issues …

what is the spark of church community?

a twinkle of hope …?

cloak sunsetThe last few days have been exciting … well exciting on my scale in a world of ‘pioneering’ where things move incredibly slowwwwwwwly as you look for ways to both engage with and support the community.

My style of pioneering has been described as ‘loitering with intent’. I guess that is a fairly accurate description of how I spend a lot of my time and I try to be visible in this community in which I have been called to serve.

I believe the church was birthed to bless communities. To be able to bless community we, the church, need to be able to find a way of discovering what the community are searching for and what the community perceive that they need. To start to understand that need the church needs to be hanging around in the community to be able to listen and watch but also to be recognised. When we are in the community it is then we hear of the communities dreams and hopes.

Sadly, in a  lot of my Christian ministry experience and throughout history I have seen, and read of,  church after church skipping over the listening bit. They have assumed, some arrogantly and some lovingly, that they already know what the community needs and provide it. These churches have then got confused and hurt when the community have not engaged with whatever the church felt it was providing.

I am desperate not to make this mistake … either through good intentions or through arrogance. 

And to be clear … I am not talking here about seeing people convert to Chritianity or to give the church ‘something’ … I am talking here solely of the church blessing the community … the church giving towards community development and not expecting anything in return. I believe in that engagement some people will become interested in the wider mission of the church … and I firmly believe people will ask questions when they need to.

But back to the peninsula …. two occurrences this week that may indicate we are at the start of something new … just maybe though as they may both come to nothing.

I was stopped earlier this week outside the 02 my a local man who had seen me in a variety of places. He asked if I and the church would be interested in supporting him as he tries to develop a community project on the peninsula. Of course I said I am happy to keep talking.

Secondly, on the GMV FaceBook page some people were talking about the fact that there was no youth club here and that provision was off the peninsula in other places. The message post was getting longer and I injected a simple question …. ‘why not start one?’ …. and, to cut a story shorter, I hope some people are going to come round next week to talk about what we might be able to do. Sometimes things need to be responded to pretty quickly … and I wonder whether there is a role here for HT to support the local community desire of having some type of youth club … we shall see!

18 months of loitering, waiting, searching and looking for ways to help  …. maybe …. just maybe … we are starting to see a couple of small ways forward.

what we have we hold

agapai

Another good Agapai this evening.
Agapai is our weekly church community meal … we eat together, talk, pray and share bread and wine.

For the last few weeks we have been considering the topics raised in ‘Dethroning Mammon‘, Archbishop Justin’s Lent book.
Tonight we talked about what is precious to us … based around the story of Mary pouring £25 000 worth of perfume over Jesus feet (which I spoke on last Sunday) in a chapter entitled ‘What we have we hold’.

We chatted tonight about what possessions are precious to us … homes, cars, sentimental value things; we spoke about how easy it would be to give these things away if people needed them, in the way Mary ‘gave away’ her perfume.

We also spoke about times when we may have questioned the way other people worship and  took time to consider what is what about the actions of others that disturbed or bothered us. We wondered what we could learn from this.

The evening closed with us sharing, as Christian Community, bread and wine before we than prayed about stuff that needed praying about.

Tonight was a great evening. The discussion was sometimes shallow, often deep, and with enough water inbetween to flow or tussle with. There was laughter too. When HT get together there is always laughter!. I hope that stays.

Thanks you for coming … see you next time!

 

Crisps and Glo Sticks

Tonight at HTGP we looked at Matthew 5 were Jesus calls his followers to be salt and light where they are.

In addition to listening to the passage and considering what it means to be salt and light (listen to Margaret’s homily here) we also said goodbye and blessed Angela, Esther and Josiah as they move on to a new stage of ministry elsewhere in the parish. It was an emotional time.

wg12Tonight I felty our stations during Open Space  worked well with the passage.
We had 2 bowls of crisps (Salt n Shake crisps .. the ones which are not salted and the salt comes in a  little blue bag); one bowl was salted and the other wasn’t. The station asked people to taste crisps from each bowl and consider whether they, as salt, are in the mix of their communities flavouring and being good news or whether they are hiding in the little blue bag which could be various activities or places.

The other station used Glo sticks; the type that need to be cracked and shaken before they glow-sticks-f112_29emit their light. The station asked people to take, crack and shake the glo stick while pondering and asking God ‘Are there places in my life that I need to allow you to crack and shake me a little so that you can shine brighter in my life?’

It seemed people were struck and challenged by these thoughts and the discussion time afterwards took these themes a little deeper.

img_1476We ended tonight service with prosecco and cake … a good way to celebrate a changing of ministry as well as acknowledging that we are all created in God’s image … and as such all contain God’s light … and that sometimes we need cracking to allow that light to shine.

1801 continues next week  with the words of Jesus suggesting plucking out our eyes and cutting off out hands is better than sinning …. I wonder what creative stations I can come up with to get us thinking on that …. why not come find out!

1st Agapai of 2017

img_1413This evening saw the first Agapai of 2017.
Agapai is the HTGP weekly meal together.
The format is simple.
We eat.
We chat about each others weeks looking to see what God has been doing.
We pray for each other.
We share bread and wine.
Tonight we also chatted about developing some bible study/discussion/video teaching  (possibly using Richard Rohr) to use particularly over the weeks of Lent.
Tonight seemed a bit like a new start, a new way forward … exciting!
If you are nearby … and you like the idea of eating with a fledgling contemplative community each week and sharing and hearing stories before praying together … then look us up or book yourself in here.

what we are seeking …

seek-copy2017 is here ….
So … what is happening here in the pioneering peninsula of Greenwich … 

I am looking ….
I am praying …
I am waiting ….
for people
for people to join me
for people to join us
for people to get together to
attempt
to birth something new here
something intentionally spiritual
something deliberately communal
something that will make a difference
something that is new ‘cos there is no blueprint
something that will grow and develop as we grow and develop
something that needs to be moulded by whoever joins the journey

church …. yes
religiously set ways of dong things … no
collaborative, creative, meaningful … yes
having to believe ‘right’ things and behave in ‘certain ways’ … no
believing there is only one way to do things … NO!
Jesus gospel trinity based … yes
affirming and encouraging … yes
contemplative Christian community … very possibly yes

Does that sound interesting to you?
Do you live within reach of North Greenwich …. read on a little more …

What we are seeking?

  • People who are established Christians and interested in birthing and participating in a missional fresh expression of church with a contemplative flavour on the Greenwich Peninsula
  • People who have, or have had in the past, a desire to focus more on contemplative and prayerful action within a Christian community and be willing to lead aspects of contextual worship, mission and community life on the Greenwich Peninsula.
  • People who can commit to a Sunday evening Contemplative Eucharist, gatherings afterwards at a local pub or the vicarage and a Wednesday evening community meal with sharing of our weekly stories, prayer for each other with sharing of bread and wine.
  • Where possibly join in the prayer life of Holy Trinity, currently 730am Prayer & Pastry at the Vicarage.
  • People willing to develop a meditation group on the Greenwich Peninsula aimed at supporting those who would call themselves spiritual rather than religious people.

Interested?

I’d love to hear from you …. please get in contact  via comments here or via our current website: http://www.holytrinity.online/

I think this is exciting … how often do we get a chance to develop and create and mould something new …. something that we hope will be of use not to us bit to those around yes as well … a blessing for us so that we can be a blessing for others … so … get in touch if remotely or only vaguely interested …

various ways

centre-of-the-universeI inhabit a variety of spaces on the peninsula.
In the summer there are lots of benches to sit on. Well … they are there in the winter too but it is not as comfortable sitting on them then.
During the colder months I have taken to sitting in Cafe Pura and Craft. Both are spaces with coffee but both are very different spaces. Cafe Pura tends to serve the residents from GMV while Craft tends to serve more the workers of the peninsula plus those passing through.

Even before I moved here and started the role a question was, and still is, who am I to serve here as the team vicar?
Am I to try and connect with the residents and birth church with those that are interested, or should I link with those that are here in the day and work in the buildings around.
And what about the 280 or so students that live on the peninsula … is there a role to play in supporting them while they stay here?
Then there is the building workforce … I can count 17 new buildings between me and The Thames that have been built in just the 16 months that I have lived here. There is a large workforce that makes that happen. oh … and the thousands of visitors we have each day … what about them?

Of course the answer is ‘Yes’.
In an ideal world we should be looking to engage and serve every single one of those communities. But I am not in an ideal world. I am part time team vicar for 4 days and then school chaplain for 2. I also only have a 3 year contract which we are nearly half way through.

Those ‘limitations’ means we have had to focus whilst keeping an open mind and willingness to hear what God might be saying. This has meant I have been ‘inhabiting’ all these spaces and waiting to see where I come across the people of peace that want to work together to serve the various fledgling communities on the peninsula. While being in these spaces and listening and watching I believe it has been important to intentionally have a blank sheet … so that whatever we grow here grows around the people that are involved rather than the other way round. So … in other words I am looking for interested people to develop something with … not looking for people to get involved in something I have already thought up.

There is a possibility that I have now moved from seeing no ways forward to now being in a position where there are a variety of avenues to walk along to support and bless the people of the peninsula. 2017 is looking bright … er!

Over the next few weeks I will be using the blog to reflect on these and push ideas around … and I invite you to join me in that conversation as you have done in the past.

This will probably be the last post this side of Christmas …. apart from the customary photoshopped design Christmas Card that will appear here tomorrow.

See you on the other side …..