From the Clergy
I suspect that for most of us our Christian life began before we can remember, as babies, when we were Christened. One of the things that distinguishes the Church of England and other traditional Churches like the Roman Catholics from more “reformed” denominations is our practice of infant baptism.
This remains a popular practice, especially in our churches here in the Harborough Team, and is one of the main routes by which “new” people come to our churches, not just the babies, but family, godparents, and friends – often lots and lots of them! Across the Church of England thousands of people come to christening services every week.
Yet this influx can be awkward for some congregations, who may feel swamped by all these strangers, many unfamiliar with church custom. If you enjoy quiet reflective worship or deep theological sermons, a large baptism service can militate against them. Added to this many of us will have been baptised at a small private service in the afternoon as was normal in the past, and do not see the reason for these large public gatherings. Worse still is the feeling expressed by some that for most families we will never see them again after the christening. When I took a straw poll recently, estimates ranged from 1 to 2% for families becoming regular worshippers. The national Church has recently done extensive research on this and found that in fact 20% become regular worshippers after the Christening (defined as coming at least monthly). This means that we have a huge opportunity for growth and welcome in our congregations.
Families were twice as likely to become regular worshippers if the christening took place in the main service as opposed to the “private” afternoon slot. Meeting other members of the congregation besides the vicar was a major factor in them feeling encouraged to attend regularly.
This fits with the theology and recommended practice adopted by the wider Church – children are baptised into a community, not an empty building – it is right that community is gathered for its regular celebration. If families have had to opt for an afternoon slot (12.30 in most of our churches) having a small party of welcomers and assistants from the regular congregation went some way to achieving that same encouragement.
You may have noticed that I have referred to “christenings” throughout rather than “baptisms”. This is partly as the term serves to differentiate between infant baptisms and those “of riper years”, but also because the same research found that in the general population “christening” was by far the most widely used and understood term, with “baptism” apparently “sounding American”!
Here in Harborough, as churches with large numbers of christenings, we are part of a national pilot to improve our ministry. We will be testing new materials and ideas for welcome, stressing the idea that christenings are not a culminating celebration for a new baby, but the start of a lifelong faith journey, often for the whole family.
In the meantime, do support our christening families in your prayers (they are always named on the pew sheet), and do what you can to welcome them. Perhaps you would consider helping as a welcomer at 12.30 services or visiting families afterwards. Talk to your clergy if you can help!
The research found extremely favourable responses to christening services, from the words and symbols to the ministry of the priest. We have a great opportunity, even responsibility to help these families onwards in their journey of faith.
Rev Andrew Quigley, Team Vicar
Appointment: Musical Director,
St Peter & Paul, Great Bowden
St Peter & St Paul, Great Bowden is a thriving parish church within the Harborough Anglican Team. It has a strong tradition of music & worship, and is poised at a time of growth and fresh opportunity. See paper, ‘Vision, inspiration and challenges’ from 2014 APCM. Details are also available on our website www.harborough-anglican.org.uk
St Peter & St Paul has a choir, organist and music group, and invites applications for the post of Musical Director. We lead the worship every Sunday morning and provide music at weddings, funerals and other occasional services.
We rehearse on the first and third Thursday of each month, with extra rehearsals when necessary e.g. Christmas & Easter. We are also considering an additional monthly music group rehearsal. Our MD is leaving us after 3 very successful years as she has a new and time consuming full time post.
We currently have 12 singing members, an organist, and music group consisting of electric piano, flute, bass guitar, clarinet and electric drums. The pattern of services is that the organ and choir lead music for worship on the 2nd & 4th Sundays, which are traditional; and the music group lead music for worship on the 1st & 3rd Sundays, including more modern church music. The MD is responsible for music at all services.
We welcome applications from an experienced and enthusiastic musician with experience of working with choirs and music groups, and knowledge of traditional and modern church music. Ideally the applicant would be a competent piano player. There is scope for someone of vision and creativity, to work within a motivated ministry team and worship group, within the Parish and beyond.
The MD will be responsible to and supported by the Team Vicar. The post is a paid position with remuneration for up to 14 hours a month.
Please send a letter of application and CV, including qualifications and experience, to Revd James Shakespeare, The Rectory, Dingley Road, Great Bowden, Market Harborough, LE16 7ET firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 29th September 2014. Further details may be obtained from James Shakespeare on 01858 434282.
Interviews for shortlisted candidates will be held during October 2014.
Pathfinders 10 - 13 year olds
The Pathfinders are a group of around a dozen young people (10-13 year olds) who meet on a Monday evening during term time from 6.30 to 8pm at St Peter and St Paul Church Hall, Great Bowden. Using various interesting and imaginative materials and resources, we explore the Bible and Christian faith through discussion, fun activities, playing games and prayer.
Pathfinder group leaders are Helen Trotter, Ceri Mutton and Simon Bentley.
Pathfinders will be starting again on Monday 8th September after the summer break and new members will be very welcome.
For further information on joining Pathfinders or the group’s activities contact Helen Trotter: 433850 or email@example.com
Cops & Robbers Holiday Club
This year’s theme for the holiday club at St Peter & St Paul was cops & robbers, and each day we had part of the story of Joseph, telling how he was in and out of trouble through his life. Kim Ford led our upfront activities and introduced the them each day, The plot – don’t be jealous, The crime – speak the truth, Falsely accused – hold on tightly, Go to jail – break to freedom, and Forgiveness isn’t easy – hard choices.
The children enjoyed the crafts and the Watt family drama and were ingenious in making wanted posters, identity passes passwords, and key pads to get into their own areas. We even had speed cameras in church! We had a total of 43 children attend with 30 of them coming to the service on the Sunday.
Many thanks to the team of volunteers who helped 18 in all from across the churches. They were also very inventive, cut and pasted, made drinks, played games and made music to give the children a great week, which ended with a visit from the police with a police car and riot gear - for the children to see and try, I would hasten to add; we didn’t need crowd control!
Bishop to launch new mission partnership here in November
During mid-November there will be a highly significant weekend for our Team and wider network of rural churches.
On 15th and 16th November Bishop Tim and some of his senior colleagues will be visiting our area to launch a new mission partnership, to visit a range of church and mission contexts, and to conduct a service of Confirmation. The aim is to encourage our common life and mission, particularly in view of a new network of 13 local parishes which will come into being.
Some years ago the Diocese launched a strategy encouraging benefices to group together as mission partnerships, working together to serve the mission of the church. Initially our mission partnership was the 5 parishes of the Harborough Anglican Team (HAT). However in February our Deanery Synod voted to form a new mission partnership, combining HAT and the rural benefices of the Langtons & Shangton and the Welham group.
Following stimulus from our new archdeacon, Tim Stratford, the vision was to create a wider sense of mutual belonging and support, enabling the church to engage in mission more fully across the whole area. It would not change present legal boundaries, but make possible a wider sharing in mission. As part of this new arrangement Revd Janet Gasper was recently appointed as Priest in Charge (NSM) of the Langtons & Shangton and Welham benefices.
In May Team Rector Richard Brand convened a group to begin planning the visit of Bishop Tim and his staff to our new Mission Partnership. This will be the third such visit that Bishop Tim has made in the Diocese, designed to provide a significant boost to local Christian mission. This is an exciting and important opportunity which we are all encouraged to engage with, with the potential to bear significant fruit for the future of our Team and Partnership.
Here is a flavour of what is likely to happen over the weekend of 15th-16th November.
- The Bishop, archdeacon and diocesan secretary will join a pilgrimage between some of the historic parishes of the new Partnership, connecting up areas not previously linked together.
- Bishop Tim will visit the Harborough market traders, and the archdeacon some of the rural farming communities; the Bishop and a colleague will drop in on Street Pastors and the CUBE youth project.
- There will be opportunities for church members to quiz the archdeacon and diocesan secretary about challenges and opportunities relating to church mission and growth. Also, the archdeacon will visit specific church building projects.
- We are planning a big Messy Church event at St Dionysius, for the Bishop and a colleague to get a flavour of some of our children and families work across the Team.
- On Sunday morning there will be a combined service to launch the new Mission Partnership at St Peter’s Church Langton, also a service of Confirmation (at the end of our course starting on 2nd September). This will be followed by a celebratory lunch for all!
If you would like further information about this special weekend, or wish to get involved in the planning process, please contact Rev James Shakespeare on 01858 469109.