Love. Compassion. Justice. Freedom.
We have always been a diocese that believes that the church exists to serve those who are not - or not yet - its members.
As a Diocese we are committed to mission in every aspect, seeking to bring the good news of God's love in Jesus to all who live in the cities, towns and villages, and to make the gospel relevant to their everyday lives.
The Church is not an end in itself. It is God’s gift to the world whose purpose is to be an effective sign of God’s Kingdom.
God’s mission is to reconcile the whole creation to himself in Jesus and establish the reign of God. Jesus’s first words in his ministry were ‘Repent and believe the good news: the Kingdom of God is at hand’.
As Christians, we are called to be those who both hear and proclaim that message, becoming agents of the transformation of the world according to God’s loving purposes in Christ.
What does the Kingdom look like? We are given a vision as we see it portrayed in and by Jesus. In it the values of love, compassion, justice and freedom will prevail.
Our Churches should be communities where the Kingdom is our core conversation, where these Kingdom values are characterise our life and through which we strive to bring them alive in our communities.
As we look forward to the next decade, as Kingdom People our vision is for a Church which more fully enables its people to be:
1. Deeply rooted in prayer and study of the scriptures
We are made for relationship with God in Jesus. Deepening that relationship is our first priority. This happens through prayer and study of God’s Word. It is in God’s power, not our own, that we seek to be instruments of his Kingdom.
We seek to remain always connected to Jesus, the true vine, in prayer and study of the Bible for without him we can do nothing.
2. Renewed and transformed by regular worship
Prayer needs to be not only individual but corporate. From the very beginning Christians met together on the first day of the week for the breaking of the bread and to pray.
Our church communities are schools of virtue in which we seek God’s grace and encourage one another in faith, hope and love.
Our relationship with the true vine is nurtured by regular and frequent receiving of communion and offering praise together.
3. Equipped to witness to the Gospel of love, compassion, justice and freedom
Jesus commanded his followers to go and make disciples of all the nations. Our faith is all important to us and we want to share with others the good news of God’s healing and forgiving power.
Realising that we do not need to be great theologians to describe to others what God has done in our lives, we are bold to speak. There is nothing more powerful than personal testimony.
4. Dedicated to helping children, young people and young adults to belong and be nurtured in faith
Children and young people are not only the Church of tomorrow they are the Church of today. Jesus showed preferential consideration for children and we want to do the same. We recognise that if we do not do so, not only will the future of our Church be in doubt, it will be impoverished in the present.
We know that we have much to learn from children and young people in our parishes and schools as well as much to offer to them.
5. Devoted to growing deeply as disciples, offering our time, talents and money to God
Conversion is not a one-off but a continuous process for each of us. We want to experience the abundance of life which God yearns to give us in Jesus and share that life with others, and so we continually turn to God. We know that becoming a disciple is a lifetime’s task as we share ever more fully in his will for us.
It happens through both grace and discipline. As well as our commitment to the life of prayer, to study of the scriptures and to receiving the sacrament in public worship described above it, we are resolved to give our time, talents and money sacrificially for God’s work.
6. Resourced and released to minister to others
When Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry that the Kingdom of God is at hand he did not expect his listeners to sit about and wait for it to appear. He wanted them to embody it.
As we grow as disciples we do all we can to discern the way in which God is calling us to use our gifts to witness and minister in Christ’s name. We then seek his power to do so. There is no more fulfilling way to spend our lives.
7. Ready to engage with and serve our community
Healthy churches combine vibrant worship with service to their communities. In other words, they take both the first and the second great commandments of Jesus seriously by endeavouring to love both God and neighbour.
As Christians, we strive to show God’s love to others in our communities by meeting their needs. This is both by individual acts of kindness and by organising ourselves to deliver care. It sometimes involves campaigning as well as charity.
8. Committed to making our buildings fit for purpose as a spiritual and community resource
Our church buildings are sometimes seen as a burden. In fact, if they are made fit for purpose, they are a wonderful blessing both to worshipping communities and wider society.
Too many churches are locked for all but a couple of hours a week when they could be a vital spiritual and community resource. We should seek to do all in our power to enable them to be used to their full potential.