Advent: Watching & Waiting (Vicar’s Pastoral Letter)

Dear friends,

As we begin the season of Advent, we remind ourselves of the kingdom coming for which we watch and wait. We remember not just Christ’s coming among us in history, but look to the end of time when he will come again. It’s a season in which we remember that we are called onwards – to be changed and renewed – as we look to his coming kingdom.

To that end, I wanted to write with news of some changes ahead of us as this year ends and we move into 2018.

Sanctuary
Many of you know that we planted an evening congregation almost three years ago, and that for the past two years, we’ve had Jono Tyrrell on our staff team exercising oversight of this service. We’ve decided not to renew Jono’s contract, and to take stock and see how the evening service might be redeveloped during 2018 as we welcome new leadership onto our team. We’re very grateful for Jono’s ministry, but also resolved that the time has come to make space for something new. The evening service will continue weekly, with Zoe overseeing its administration, and myself exercising the main leadership for the time being while we see how God develops things. We hope that those who have been involved in leadership will remain, but we recognise that some will feel they also need to stand down from their roles.

Music & Worship
After serving faithfully as our Worship Pastor for just over 6 years, Steve Counsel will also be finishing his employment with the church at the end of the year. I’m resolved that it’s time to make some space for new leadership in this ministry, and to see who God will call to develop this ministry during 2018. We’re not going to rush a new appointment, but rather we will be welcoming various guest worship leaders in the months ahead, with a view to appointing a new Music & Worship Minister sometime around the summer. The day-to-day administration of rotas, and planning for services will be handled by Sara Hunter, and she and I will also take on a regular commitment to leading our musical worship over the next few months. Please pray for Steve as he discerns where the Lord may be calling him, and for God’s continued provision in his and Shannon’s life. We are enormously grateful for the way he has helped to lead and develop a culture of worship in our church over the past years.

Youth & Children
As we begin 2018, we also begin the development of our Youth Minister – backed by significant funding from the Diocese of London. The aim of the Youth Minister is to scale up our youth provision in such a way that it is able to grow numerically, but also in its capacity to support and resource other local churches in their youth work. Please pray for Julian as he leads this ministry, and for Mo and the volunteer youth team as they support him. Our Children’s ministry continues unchanged under Ruth’s leadership.

Balanced Life / Hoxton Sports Hub
2017 saw the launch of our pilot project to see how sport, exercise, health and fitness support can be made available to local people who may otherwise be deterred by cost and / or culture. Chris Stirling has made an excellent start to this work, and will be continuing to develop it during 2018.

#LoveHoxton
We submitted our bid for £1.75 million to the Heritage Lottery Fund last week to enable the redevelopment of our church site. We will find out in late February / early March whether we have been successful. Please do keep this in your prayers. Our hope is still that we will redevelop the church building itself, with the significant addition of a church annexe, as well as the provision of some affordable rented housing. There are too many complex issue to outline here – but suffice it to say, we need God’s intervention to make this vision become a reality.

New Leadership Roles
We are delighted that Caroline Taylor will be ordained on Saturday 30th June at St Paul’s Cathedral (keep the date in your diary!) and will join us as Curate from Sunday 1st July. She will take on a significant leadership role in the day to day life of the church, and especially in the morning congregation. This will enable me to devote more of my time to the redevelopment plans, as well as the Youth Minster.

We will also be seeking to recruit a Finance & Operations Manager to provide more central support with finance, HR, building and events management. Please pray that God would call the right person to join our team.

Finally, I’m aware that there can be a sense sometimes that pastoral care is overlooked in our church. Actually, a great deal of pastoral care goes on behind the scenes, but we’re also in the process to establishing a pastoral care team, with the leadership of a pastoral care co-ordinator to ensure that Connect Groups, home visits, prayer support and the like all continue. Everyone can be involved in this – at St John’s, pastoral care is for everyone, by everyone!

As we watch and wait for all that God will do among us in 2018, would please join me in praying for Jono and Steve as they finish their roles, and for those whom God will call to begin new ministries in the year ahead.

Yours,

Graham

Revd Graham Hunter
Vicar – St John’s Hoxton

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