Christ Church’s journey
of visioning thus far
Starting in 2016, Christ Church Kenilworth (CCK) has been on a journey of visioning, seeking to discern God’s direction for us as a community. We acknowledge the resources with which we have been blessed, both in terms of our people and also in terms of physical infrastructure.
Our desire to be good stewards of what God has given us, is prompting us to re-consider the usage of infrastructure; we do this in the light of understanding who we are and how the journey thus far has helped in defining this, and where we believe God may be directing us.
This summary seeks to identify firstly how we see ourselves, and secondly the key elements of this journey of visioning. It serves as something of a background to assist the Working Group charged with finding a way forward as to the use of our properties, and specifically 16 Summerly Road (Christ Church Centre). All proposals will be evaluated in this context.
Who we are
We see ourselves as a community that is God- and Christ-centred, Bible-based and Spirit-filled and led. Scripture has fed our journey, particularly the psalms and the Gospels. We see God as supreme and with us; our protector, shelter, strength and source of help (Ps 46, Ps121); we trust in Him and His righteousness (Ps 37). We are to ask, seek and knock, to come to Jesus and find rest in Him, and to bear good fruit (Mt 7, Mt 11).
What we see as life-giving relates both to ourselves as the CCK community and also to the wider community of Kenilworth and beyond.
Within CCK we attach importance to the refugee ministry; small groups, relationships in general and particularly inter-generationally (camps, notably Emerge, and youth - Childrens’ Church and Ambies) are very much part of our make-up.
The basic theme of this is one of caring and healing; this relates both to nurturing one another and also extends to the wider community (and in our social context there are some concerns about wealth and poverty and issues of guilt and repentance).
Numerous ministries among the wider community resonate with us – nearer to home these include WOTS (ministry to Women on the Street); support for others who are needy including in times of emergency; and provision of courses, including the spread of the Gospel via Alpha and Prisons ministry.
Further afield we seek to be engaged with other churches (specifically Bettaway in Delft), in supporting missionaries, including the Red Frog ministry and in peace and justice mediation.
In doing this, we are comfortable with and indeed encourage diversity. We also recognise that as ‘Christ Church scattered’ God is able to reach out through us at the workplace and elsewhere. Through discipleship, mentorship, and discerning one another’s gifting we seek to support one another in our various ministries, and recognise the importance of prayer in undergirding all of this.
Where do we see ourselves going?
During times set aside to discern the way forward, some of our number have sensed images of streams of living water, trees with deep roots fed by those waters, and beacons of light and hope.
These mirror a strong sense of reaching out in love beyond our immediate community, sharing our resources and God’s word; in doing so, we should understand the many needs of our city and listen attentively to God’s leading us to respond. Related to this, many have commented about caring for the poor, not merely in financial terms, but emphasising relationships, being involved in freely giving practical support in areas such as education, health care, employment creation and hunger alleviation.
There is also recognition of supporting CCK members who are reaching out in their everyday lives as disciples and creating structures to support them – and concerns about some whom we have not reached and have left the CCK community.
Key to the development of this process were four congregational gatherings in November 2017. From these emerged a vision of CCK as a vibrant community in our suburb using our facilities boldly to achieve its purposes.
A broad summary of the values which emerged refers to –
Being a mission hub, from which people go out and return for refreshment, communicating what is already being done & engaging in and supporting mission opportunities
Living the Gospel together as the CCK community, in terms of greater connectivity, intergenerational integration, making safe spaces to be honest and vulnerable, addressing spiritual needs, and ensuring no one is in need
Strengthening our worship, intercession and prayer, the exercise of spiritual gifts, and healing ministry
Encouraging diversity in ‘tribe and tongue’
Responsible use of our space and buildings.
In February 2018 at the CCK Staff Retreat the staff came to the unanimous agreement that to follow the vision of CCK, we should move the Staff component from Christ Church Centre (the Centre) onto main campus (Annex). This would endorse the concept of community and facilitate activity in that direction. This would lead in time to opening up further options for the Centre.
Pursuant to this a group of concerned parishioners, named “The Buildings Bunch” began to explore options relating to the use of the Centre. At the first meeting Rob Taylor presented his vision for the church speaking of the ‘sense of possibility’, of building community as a value to pursue and uphold; of creating spaces to build community around missional evangelism. He drew a picture of a church which isn’t just used on Sundays but engages with the surrounding society all week in expressing ‘Christ in this place’. Our campus has to reflect community, evangelism and mission and be a porous space between staff and people during the week, more integrated, more accessible, more service-oriented. He spoke of pursuing ‘redemptive spaces’ and releasing resources into the greater community; of a vision of opportunity for 24 hour prayer; of “monastic” rhythms prayer and worship, and of Christ Church ‘being like a magnet'.
Two subsequent meetings of the Buildings Bunch suggested a way forward for CCK that would entail the ‘Vision’ group being assisted in its envisioning by a ‘Technical’ group, made up from within the present Buildings Bunch. The firm recommendation of the Buildings Bunch was in full support of the Staff’s desire to move to the main campus and, further, to propose that the Centre not be sold while consideration be given to its future use around the concept of a ‘Life Centre’.
The church gathered for an “Imbizo” on 17th October 2018 where it was agreed to support the Buildings Bunch proposals and bring them to the Church Meeting. The Church Meeting on 7th November 2018 duly agreed with the proposals of the “Imbizo”, that we would not sell the Centre in the immediate term, but would give ourselves until November 2019 to work through a process to determine the best use of the Centre.
Finally, numerous practical suggestions have been made and some general principles have been teased out as to the way forward. The various suggestions are not listed here lest they influence potential fresh thinking; however the general principles may assist in providing some assistance in the context which has been described above –
We seek to honour God, listening prayerfully and attentively to discern His will;
We realise that we need to understand what our community is busy with and that we will need to act collaboratively to gain ‘buy-in’ for usage of buildings that is sustainable and not a financial drain;
We accept and manage the tensions between dreaming and planning, waiting and acting, identification of problems and determining solutions – but we have now journeyed to a point where we can consider specific proposals for the use of our buildings, given the context described above.
Claire May, 15/04/2019