Joyful June

Dear JohnPaul Parish family

Joyful June

It was so glorious to have those few weeks of sun!  I dived into my wardrobe and found my summer outfits, I even put some self-tanning lotion on my legs!  And then the rain started to fall again!  Hey ho!  I enjoyed it while it lasted.

My big focus in May was preparing for our bid to the Community Ownership fund – part of the government’s levelling up funds.  Sadly, this has now all gone on hold as we move towards a general election in July.  As I reflect on the election and our fundraising I want to share a few thoughts.

Our bid for funds had to put a lot of emphasis on our work within the community and this has made me more aware of the amazing work Kath Jones, Marion Wilkinson (and others) have done to secure great relationships with a variety of people who use our building: Hyndburn Singers, Hyndburn Ramblers, both our Toddler groups, Guides and Brownies, a yoga teacher, both our schools, etc.  So, what has that got to do with the election?  In the light of our new vision for JohnPaul parish, we want to be a church that has kingdom impact on our community, not just passive relationships.  And I hope Jesus’ kingdom values will also affect the way you consider voting!

When I think about the way we work with schools, as governors, as members of the PTA; we not only visit the school, go to governor and PTA meetings, but we also pray, do assemblies, invigilate for SATs, go on days out with school, support the teachers at school.  I am fully invested in the school because I believe that is part of what it means to be a Christian.  To not just be concerned about those in church, but also to see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  So that means in our offices, on our streets, in our hospitals, in our places of work, etc.

Jesus declared in, what many call, the Nazareth Manifesto:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”  Luke 4.18-20

The kingdom that Jesus was inaugurating would always have at its very heart those most vulnerable in society: children, our elderly, prisoners, the bereaved, the lonely, the refugee, those with mental health issues, the orphan.  The Christian church has always been at the forefront of social change, announcing the good news in words and deeds.  I am sad that we have had to put our wellbeing group on hold recently due to lack of leadership.  I am sad that we can’t do more for our Albanian family.  I am sad that St John’s particularly is damp and in need of repair, because I want our churches to be community hubs.  I want them used every day of the week, for youth, for elderly, for lonely, for those with mental health issues, for families.  And there is a group of people at St Paul’s who would love to open up our churches to reach those most in need in the local area – soup kitchens, parenting classes, teaching families how to cook nutritious meals, etc.  Someone asked us at the APCM whether our churches are growing.  Yes, we are seeing growth, in terms of numbers, which is part of our mission prayer that we read each week.  But I believe we are also seeing growth in our spiritual commitment too.  As we grow in our love for God and for each other, we also start to care about those around us.  Let me give you some examples.

  • Old and new members of the church have been really helpful in preparing great photos and information for our fundraising bid.

  • Parties and craft days at Christmas and Easter for our local families.

  • The Jubilee Bash in Baxenden reached over 400 people and generated £1500!

  • The Autumn Fairs reach out to hundreds every year around St Paul’s each year and the same faces are seen each time – most who are not regulars at church.

  • The way a whole group of people keep our graveyard in such good shape – this is a much-appreciated place of quiet reflection for many of the Baxenden community.

  • Our community coffee mornings and the new monthly communion service.

  • Our Knit and Natter group, our Domino drives, our Film Nights

  • The Harvest Ceilidh that some of the young Mums are planning for September.

  • Our Remembrance events, Our Guides, our Rainbows

  • Our services for the schools – I did Pentecost services this year for both schools

The list could go on and, of course, there is also much that has been done in the past!  This is not to blow our own trumpet, but to remind you that God is at work, making the rough ground level, revealing His glory.  And he is doing it through you!  I have quoted this verse a lot recently as part of our sermon series on prayer.  But this is our vision, this is our mission.  As we contemplate God more; through being part of a Connect group, through our own times of prayer and Bible study, through praying together as we do on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Then we will find, like Moses, as he returned from his mountain top experience with God, that our faces reflect God’s glory in the valleys below – wherever we go!

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18  

But I sense there is more to come, more we can do, and God is even now preparing people to give more generously of their time, talents and treasure.  Please pray with me as we ask the Lord, what else can we do and say to reveal your glory to those around us.

May God bless you this June,  Amanda and the team at JohnPaul Parish!

PS  Praise God for a joyful June service yesterday.  Allison Worral was licensed by Philip, our Bishop of Blackburn, as our new Parish Evangelist  – see photo!