Saturday, January 31, 2009

Future of mission in the centre and the Bay

A City Centre Churches Together meeting last night. We welcomed Peter Trow, Ecumenial officer of the URC in Wales. He wanted to sound us out about the possibility of being a sponsoring body in support of the Bay Chaplaincy project, which is up for review and possible revamping next year, when Monica Mills retires.

The Chaplaincy, based at the Lightship, was born as an industrial missionary response to the Cardiff docks regeneration initiative. Since the Cardiff Bay has been up and running as a district for tourism, commerce, arts, local and national government, the Chaplaincy's focus has naturally shifted into these new areas.

In 2010, the enterprise will need to be re-funded for a further period. At the outset it was meant to have an inter-church support base, but due to the collapse of Cardiff Churches Forum and the stillbirth of its successor Cardiff Christian Council, formal ecumenical backing has always been thin on the ground. In fact, the chaplaincy has survived. both materially and spiritually because the burden of responsibility has been borne by the URC, possessed of an ecumenically visionary stance. All the churches owe more than a debit of gratitude to the URC for this reason.

Now a time of change approaches, and it's time that other denominations make an effort to give material and spiritual support to the re-equipping of the Chaplaincy for its present mission. Tonight's meeting was being asked if CCCT would become part of an advocacy and support mechanism, which demonstrates that churches in Cardiff truly own this unique mission project. It is indeed up to the City Centre Churches to give a lead in this because we also exist to serve in the same area of the city that houses its central business district and government institutions.

I was pleased to see how much appreciation there was for Chaplaincy work in the Bay, among Churches Together members. There's a general interest in careful exploration of the nature of what is being asked of us as a sponsoring body. If together as churches we become stakeholders in this unique venture in mission, it will, I'm sure, help us in thinking about the missionary role of all our churches in the emerging new commercial development of the city's heart. Our service of God's kingdom in this setting must involve more than pastoral care for each other. We must learn better what it means to have a pastoral heart for lives of people devoted to economic activity, governance, public security and safety, and those who are socially alienated. If we are able to do this well, it could well inspire other Churches Together Groups across the city to move towards each other with fresh interest in the welfare of the city as a whole, and who knows, maybe lead to the re-birth of a city wide community of communities. A Cardiff Christian Council may yet rise to life from the ashes, if we at the centre get our mission vision right.

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