An inspirational meeting of the PCC this week – in Liverpool 8. For our July meeting we decamped to our link church, St Cleopas, and were duly humbled, challenged and encouraged.
In many ways our two churches have followed two parallel paths as each of us has built a building in order to serve our local community in the name of Jesus. In fact, one of the impressions of the visit was how similar our two buildings are – although only one of them has a fully equipped laundry. You may recall that the tithe from the building of our Ministry Centre went to support Cleos in their building project which was slightly ahead of ours.
The immediate setting for Cleos will be familiar to you if you can recall the 1980’s sitcom, Bread. In fact, Dingle is one of the most deprived areas of the country – and Cleos in is the heart of it, in every sense of the word. But clearly their old church building was not up to the job – an ugly Victoria two storey mission hall. (Their splendid high Victorian gothic building was demolished in about 1984).
For the Gospel to be lived and shared a new building had to be built.
This required a quality of faith which only God himself can give. And under the leadership of David Gavin the project began – with as many twists and turns, setbacks and heavy flak, as we experienced in the building of our Ministry Centre.
One of the common features of our two buildings was a resolve to serve the local people – and in the case of Cleos this meant a modern worship area (theirs is a church and not just a church hall), provision for children and young people (they have a dedicated room), a café (called not surprisingly Cleos) and a laundry (customers qualify for a free coffee).
But this is just the building. We were shown around by Paula and spoke of their various ministries, doing things which no local authority could ever hope to emulate. Here was the love of Christ made manifest.
As it happened, the main item on our agenda at the request of the diocese was the parish share, how each parish church pays into the diocese for ministry and mission. The larger your congregation and the more prosperous your parish, the higher your contribution. I think we at Christ Church are the third largest payer in the diocese at £106,000 pa
It is very easy to see the parish share as some kind of income tax to be paid reluctantly having explored all the means of reducing the burden. But here in Cleos we could see how vitally important it is for each of us to support the other and for the richer churches not to sidestep our responsibilities.
When the apostle Paul was hauled in front of the “pillars” (i.e. key
players) of the Jerusalem church for his preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, he convinced them that his controversial ministry was no less than God at work. In fact, James, Peter and John encouraged him to continue with some provisos – the main one being that his churches should continue to support financially the Jewish-based churches.
His response – “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:12) In fact, Paul’s passion was this koinonia – he often refers to it in his epistles. For this cash collection was the visible demonstration that we are members one of another, both in the local congregation and the wider church. As disciples of Jesus we are responsible no less for each other.