Friday, April 16, 2010

Final Friday

There were fourteen of us at the noon Eucharist today, bringing the weekday total up to thirty two, much to my satisfaction - the weekday average is up by 25% over seven years of upheaval in the city centre. When I arrived and people around the place asked me where I was working, I was often surprised to hear people say that they thought St John's was closed, even though the church had been kept open daily, even though the tea room was running regularly. I guess the clothing of the tower in scaffolding for a year, plus a few inevitable closures for safety reasons once it was realised this had to be done, did send out messages to the public that needed to be contradicted at a later date.

Getting people back into the habit of expecting the place to be open with regular worship on weekdays as well as Sundays took several years. We're not talking here about what went on in reality, but what people working around the city thought was happening. Making sure that the public is aware of the welcoming presence day by day did involve publicity, looking for occasions to make known the life and activities of the church, and not fighting shy of the possibility of a little controversy, if that's what it takes to get noticed.

I have encountered such disappointment among city workers and worshippers that there is no news of a sucessor, no possibility of a public handover, that would help make my successor known as Christ's ambassador in the city centre. The doctrine imposed from above is that 'the Parish' will have get on without an incumbent and live through a process of bereavement, while the recruitment process goes on - despite the fact that my departure has been planned and made known for over a year, and that undertakings were given that the interregnum would be as short as possible. What 'possible' means in this context is considerably different between those who look in to the city centre from outside, and those who have to carry forward the church's mission in this context. It's no wonder that the church as a public body finds itself unable to retain the measure of public respect and credibility it thinks it deserves.

After the Eucharist, I enjoyed a couple of hours at the sink, washing up in good company as usual. We wished Pauline happy birthday for Monday coming, with a nice bottle of bubbly, during the quiet period. Today there was a lunchtime organ concert, well attended, and it brought another wave of customers in afterwards. Just think next time I stand at the sink in the tea room, I'll be just a volunteer like all the others. I hope that everyone else involved won't find this too hard to get used to.

Once the activity died down, I went to my bank and acted upon Financial advice received earlier in the week, and began to move money that arrived in my current account a couple of days ago. Good to get it all safely locked down, where it won't any longer make me nervous to have around. A strange place for me to be indeed

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