© 2013 Banbury Circuit - Reg Charity No:  1135376

Banbury Methodist Circuit
Pastoral Letter From The Latest Circuit Newsletter - Rev Robert Jones

Faced as we seem to be with constant bad news about falling numbers of church attendance, many, perhaps most, churches in Britain are asking serious questions of themselves.  A recent article published by the Bible Society suggests that the picture is more complicated than we had thought.

 

For a start, the worldwide Christian community is growing, especially in Africa, Latin America and substantial parts of SE Asia.  The global figures are rising and we should take some comfort from this even though in Europe, North America and Australasia there has been a very gradual decline for over a hundred years.

 

There are shifts and currents in our community life, which means that churches face a quite different context to the one we knew even forty years ago.  I can vouch for that from my own experience.  Significant counter-intuitive growth, however,  seems to be coming in a number of specific areas:

" Anglican Cathedral congregations have seen significant growth in the last twenty-five years.

" Black Majority Churches now constitute some of the largest congregations in Britain.

" There is a growth in congregations that worship on days other than Sundays.

None of this is a simple solution to the situation we face but it reminds us that we do need to be hopeful and trust we are held in the eternal purpose of God.

The one question all churches return to is "how do we effectively engage with the community that never comes near us?"  There are many ways to respond to this but I know that one effective way is through the ministry of chaplaincy.  I have been involved with chaplains for the last twenty-two years and have seen at first hand the tremendous impact this ministry can have.  It was for this reason that two years ago, I got involved with a small ecumenical group of people who felt the call of God to start a project that has become 'Chaplaincy for Banbury' (CfB).  It has been a slow and painstaking process but about two months ago, our first teams of chaplains appeared on the streets of Banbury Old Town.  We have been very well received and are already making good friends and positive relationships.

 

In our current  Newsletter, you will find details of the next round of training for anyone who feels called to explore this ministry.  There are no special qualifications of age or education other than to love people and to have a pastoral heart born out of your own experience as a disciple of Jesus. Please do prayerfully give this some real consideration and respond if you can.  


Our Circuit has been generous with start-up funding; now let us contribute with our personal involvement.


Blessings,     Robert Jones

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