From the Rector

Dear friends

Congratulations on making it through Christmas and welcome 2018!

What does the New Year hold for us together as the Parish of Acton?

First of all, we will be working on what it means to be part of “Inclusive Church”, a decision the PCC took towards the end of last year.  Inclusive Church is a national network of churches signed up to the following mission statement:

"We believe  in  inclusive  Church - church  which  does  not  discriminate,  on any  level, on grounds  of  economic  power,  gender,  mental health,  physical ability,  race or sexuality.   We  believe  in Church  which  welcomes  and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ;  which  is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim  the Gospel afresh for each generation; and  which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ."

You will start to see the Inclusive Church logo appearing on our pew sheets and publicity materials.  It follows on from the letter you are reading in this magazine. We have always celebrated our inclusiveness as churches and rejoiced in our diversity, but we will now be working through more intentionally what it means to extend an unconditional welcome to all in each of the six areas mentioned.  One of these areas is sexuality.  You will no doubt be aware that not only the Church of England but the whole Anglican Communion is tearing itself apart over this.  I don’t believe that’s necessary.  I believe God loves us as he made us; and that to think otherwise is not to be faithful to the teaching of Scripture or to our Christian tradition.  But being inclusive is about much more than sexuality.  I am acutely aware of issues around disability and, without prejudging where the PCC might wish to start, I think our initial work will most likely be there.  As we explore, we will find we have a lot to do.

Secondly, we have work to do to make our building warm and welcoming; and to continue to have halls that are fit for purpose for us and for all the community groups we partner with.  We need to fix our heating. We need new lighting.  We need to make the pews more comfortable without you having to bring along your own cushions.  The halls have new chairs, but they also need a facelift.  All of that requires funding, as do our ongoing costs.  Whilst we can raise money through grants and the continued letting of the office block and house we own, we will need to ask for your help as well.

Thirdly, we need to place a special focus on our ministry with children and young people.  Our Junior Church is fantastic, but we are short of volunteers.  We also need to kick start our youth group; and we need to do more for families with pre-school children who don’t tend to stick with us after baptisms.  The Quiet Room at the back of church needs improving.  The lighting work will include rewiring which will mean we can heat the Choir Vestry properly for the youth.  We might look at what we offer for parents and young children during the week.  All of this requires volunteering.  So, can you help? Beyond church, Dean and I are involved with two of the local schools, but there are still three other schools in our parish we have little or no contact with as well as Acton High School just beyond the parish and a new secondary Free School which is due to open in 2019 as part of the Ark chain on the Acton College site, which is in our parish. 

Finally for now, and speaking of volunteering, the first six Sunday nights of the New Year (as well as the first part of Monday mornings) are taken up with our part in the Ealing Churches Winter Nightshelter.  We have had a terrific response this year.  Thank you so much.  Your time offered makes a massive difference and, with an additional staff member, the Nightshelter now has more capacity to help our guests get off the streets and into accommodation as soon as possible.  Until recently, we have offered a year round service to homeless and vulnerable people through the Tuesday afternoon Standing Tall Drop In.  This has run its course successfully and there is now a range of other provision.  It’s a Christian imperative, however, that we reach out to the most vulnerable and the most marginalised.  When I first came to Acton two and a half years ago, I was told that the largest group discharged from Wormwood Scrubs prison is into the Borough of Ealing, and I’m sure we have our share at this end.  I have expertise, as you know, in knowing what is needed for such people.  We all have a vested interest in them not reoffending and successfully reintegrating into society.  So, I am going to be researching this with the prison Chaplaincy and chatting to the leaders of other churches about what might be done. 

Beyond all of that, I am so conscious of our busy lives and the lesson I learnt from the Benedictine monks over my autumn sabbatical that the principle “work of God” – a translation of the Latin “opus Dei” – is to attend to our inner life.  This is what we principally come to church for and the gift of our churches, I believe, is that we don’t offer endless well-intentioned programmes but rather space to be.  As Rector, my principle duty, together with my colleagues Dean and Mary, is to guard that space and make sure we have a healthy balance of being and doing.

Happy New Year!




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