Review of The Gathering 2012

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Forward – But How?


As spring takes hold of the land, Presbyteries and Association are invited to consider changes in the running of the Connexion. The main objective is to review Moving Forward 3 in order to ensure that our witness is effective, that we are responsible in the use of our human and financial resources, and to facilitate a sense of belonging to a Church which is representative of congregations throughout Wales and beyond.

I do not intend to look at the fine details proposed. These relate to activities, responsibilities and accountability on every level of our Connexional life, The review attempts to simplify and thus speed up the decision making processes and bring them closer to our people. Although certain boards, departments and panels may change yet no current work or agenda item will be lost.

In inviting discussion on every level of the Connexion's life hopefully over the coming weeks so that ideally responses may be received by the Spring Association and a report submitted to the July General Assembly - I would like to make a few observations.

Let us remember that we are discussing God's Church and we must approach the work in a prayerful and humble manner. We have been entrusted with the work of continuing the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ in the world, and in Wales specifically. Our task is to make Jesus's challenge and mission alive in our time by identifying with the work he is already doing ‘reconciling the world with himself’. As we are accountable to him, we have to be effective in our planning and use of all our resources. There are therefore three main foci: his will, the world around us and our spiritual and practical needs to fully prepare us for the work. We must ensure the arrangements that are currently under scrutiny enable us to fulfil our ministry.

But the structure has to be owned by our people. This is all important: thus there is an overriding need to be transparent; for it is our people who are the Church and sustain it. But more significantly, they are at the cutting edge of Christ's mission. The structure should empower all of us in the work of the Lord. Thus, consultation and commitment need to be as broad and inclusive as possible. This is an invitation for everyone to respond.

But it is very difficult to argue for being more effective and responsible in serving the Kingdom of God, without appreciating that this also applies to the whole Church. We must therefore consider the report of the Covenant Commission in the same light. Is it not self-evident that the Christian Church would be more effective and responsible in its work and the use of our God given resources, if we were less divided and more united in purpose?

Is it merely coincidental that the two reports are presented for our consideration at the same time. Who would deny the guiding hand of the Spirit in this - especially in view of the recent census findings? Let us continue to pray for God's spring in our land.

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