In this network of worshipping communities, prayer must be even more the engine-house of ministry and mission and we want our corporate prayer life to be deep and strong and varied. We want to build on the traditional weekday morning prayer and the contemplative prayer stations of ‘Sacred Space’, encouraging local development beyond the prayer pilgrimage for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, perhaps adding a rule of life, developing ‘faith in homes’ resources to support the spirituality of families, or restarting the School of Theology.
The Lordsbridge Team is already a training benefice. We’d like to develop its reputation both as a supportive environment for students that gives a taste of village-based Team ministry (multi-parish, multi-stipend) and as a place for innovative practice-based thinking. We hope that different members of the wider ministry team will continue to contribute to thinking in pastoral theology and to the national conversation around sustainable rural Fresh Expressions of Church.
Over the next few years we would like to explore how we develop our staff team to include a wider variety of skills and roles, a mix of paid and voluntary and with different types of funding. But leadership of the Lordsbridge Team as a whole will remain shared, with good working relationships and trust between colleagues for whom working collegially is part of their DNA.
Yet the Team, like the church as a whole, faces challenges – how can our buildings be more blessing than burden? How can multi-parish working be life-giving not treadmill? How does diversity enrich, not threaten, our friendship and our collective experience of God? How do we offer the riches of faith to those who are spiritual, without being institutional? How do we engage with the ethical and political issues of our day? How do we support the faith of children and young people, or the elderly, or the mentally ill, across small communities? How do we, collectively, incarnate the love of God in this particular time and place? These are things that we will, wherever possible, address together.
As we refine and realise this vision together, we will learn much and will need courage to keep going when things become tough. We will have some interesting and some hard conversations. We will work on character and calling. We will engage with our contemporary context. We will learn that both continuity and innovation, both faithfulness and creativity, are necessary. We will learn again both to tell the old, old story and to sing a new song, in the name of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.