Letter from a Member of the Ministry Team: Looking to the Future of Iffley - Part One and Two

Letter from a Member of the Ministry Team: Looking to the Future of Iffley – Part One and Two

A letter about the Ministry Team – from Tom Leach

That title is of course wrong! It should read Donnington, Rose Hill and Iffley. All of these areas are important in our discussions of the future of the parish. Here are my comments on the Vision Morning we held on Sunday 11 December and the feedback which we gathered afterwards.

From an organiser’s point of view the Vision Morning was a delight. We had anticipated 40+ participants. 60+ members of the congregation showed up and there were another five or so contributions in writing after the event. There was a real buzz of discussion about the three questions put to the workshop by Rev. Charles Chadwick, our Parish Development Adviser:

                                                What is growing well? (using the image of the church as a garden)

                                                What needs nurturing and specific care and attention?

                                                What would you like to see growing over the next 3 years?

The responses filled almost six pages of closely typed A4 paper. A third of them were about what was going well, and this was the overwhelmingly positive impression left by the feedback from the Vision Morning. As a congregation we delight in all aspects of church life. To relish the extent of this positive feedback you will have to look at my short Summary of Feedback which was sent to each member of the congregation at the end of February. Lest we should be complacent about all this, a passionate statement was made by a younger member of the congregation, praising Iffley as a church which welcomes everyone, but at the same time reminding us of the need for diversity and inclusion.

These are themes which we shall return to in a second Vision Morning at the end of April as we think about how we can build on the positive foundations which we identified on 11 December. We need to appreciate and maintain the positive activities and best aspects of our life together and at the same time begin to look more closely at the next stage of our church life. The feedback from the Vision Mornings (on 11 December and 30 April) will help to shape the parish profile.

A small group of four PCC members has been meeting since early February to draw together in text and photographs a description of the parish and its significant activities, organisations and features to inform the process of replacing the vicar. This parish profile will go to the PCC in May. The plan is to advertise in September 2023, shortlist for the vacant post in the autumn, and make an appointment in early 2024.

In the meantime, there is lots to be done. We have begun to talk to ordained priests around Oxford who may be available to lead services and preach after Andrew and Sarah have retired. Their last service will be on Sunday 21st May when we intend to hold a Bring & Share lunch in the hall to say goodbye to them. So we have been drawing up a list of service leaders from the last weekend in May and onwards for the rest of this year. This important task has already started and Sarah and I have begun meeting people who are willing to help out. We will also need to make sure that requests for baptisms, weddings and funerals are met, and we will be supported by a well-established team: Graham Low and David Barton, and Janet Low and Lucy Phillips in the church office. But we certainly need support from other retired clergy in the parish such as Bill Beaver, and a number of individuals in the diocese who are willing to lead services on a regular basis in the parish. Of course we will not forget our own group of local lay preachers.

Pastoral visiting and support in the parish will continue from the end of May as it has done for many years. Key to this are the members of the Ministry Team and Susan Morrison, Lay Pastoral Assistant.

Janet Low as Parish Administrator, will play a vital coordinating role as always, circulating rotas, notice sheets and duty reminders among other things, and maintaining the music in our services. She will hold the parish diary and Lucy Phillips will continue to manage hall bookings.

Keeping the church open for individual prayer and quiet reflection will remain an important undertaking and we will need to gather together a team of people who will help to do this. This is one way you can help us during this period of interregnum.

How else can you help?  There are many ways. Here are a few. Please help us to surround this whole process of finding a new vicar with your prayers. Do join us on Sunday 30th April in the Church Hall as we carry forward our discussions on the kind of church we want to be (Looking to the Future of Iffley, Part Two). Consider offering to serve on the PCC.