During recent months a group has been meeting within St Margaret’s carefully drafting for our Parochial Church Council, and us all, a new Mission Action Plan. This will be our fourth MAP. As with all our previous MAPs it will, in time, be offered for consultation by our PCC across all our congregations.
One of the tasks of the MAP process is to closely examine what we do well as a church and where we might improve. This should be a natural cyclical process for any healthy organisation. As a Church we seek to do this prayerfully under the conscious guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The MAP process invites us to explore where new opportunities might lie for us and also the threats to us a living Christian community. One dynamic change we are feeling at St Margaret’s is the fast changing nature of our clergy and ministerial team. We are very sorry to lose Fr Paul and his family to St John’s, Bierley, but we rejoice that we have launched him into his first incumbency. The “heady days” of six or seven retired clergy serving the parish are also now behind us, but we continue to be grateful for the long contribution of Fr Godfrey and Fr Bernard. In more recent times we have also been delighted to welcome both Dr Catherine Beaumont and Rev’d Sam Harris who are bringing new perspectives and contributions to our work of preaching and Christian nurture alongside our present team.
With the reduction in clergy numbers at St Margaret’s I will be spending more of my time particularly celebrating the midweek Masses in the coming months. One of our newly elected parish officers recently attended a mid-week Eucharist for the first time and afterwards spoke powerfully to me about the experience and especially the spiritual depths and richness he discovered there. It was a reminder to me that the day by day privilege of worship at St Margaret’s is something we rarely speak of yet might well be one of our hidden treasures. I certainly believe that that prayer for well over a century has made St Margaret’s building a place where people feel the tangible presence of God.
The pattern of public daily worship at St Margaret’s involves Morning Prayer each week day at 7.45am in the Lady Chapel, and Evening Prayer on a Saturday at 5.00pm. On the first Saturday of each month this is followed by a silent half hour before the Blessed Sacrament where we pray especially for our work of Mission Action Planning. There are also Masses on Tuesdays at 7.00pm, Thursdays at 11.00am and Fridays at 7.15am.
Each service is supported by lay members of St Margaret’s and most of the weekday Masses attract a congregation which runs into double figures. With the changing nature of Sundays, family life and working practices these services offered during the week at different times are a valuable opportunity for us to participate in the worshipping life of God’s church and to spend important time in the conscious presence of God. This is a particular hidden treasure which presents us with new opportunities to deepen our faith and discipleship amongst the secularising challenges we face.
Your friend and parish priest