My dear friends,

‘To everything there is a season  .  .  .’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

 It is a little known fact that our second largest congregation on a Sunday is often the one that meets in the Village Hall as part of our Junior Church.  I frequently reflect on how fortunate I am to be part of a steadily growing church with signs of new life emerging in all sorts of places.

 The Church Council recently identified that growth has come from three quite different groups:  Firstly, those who have come to us because we are a church that has used and valued the Prayer Book.  Secondly, there are those who have come to us because of our growing links with families through the church school.  And thirdly, we have those who have simply joined us because we are their local church.

 Healthy churches end up a lot like families - made up of diverse and extraordinary characters with varying ages and lifestyles (and if you don’t believe me just take a moment to look at your own family!)  That diversity brings both joys and complications, but any family worth the name must embrace and accommodate its diversity, or it will alienate its members and fracture painfully.

 In response to these insights our Church Council have decided to allow some changes to our 11 o’clock services.  These will be particularly important in integrating the younger families into the mainstream life of the church.  In fifty years time they will have become another generation of mature Christian elders ready to welcome and encourage the faith and life of youngsters not yet born.

 This all means change, but I ask you to bear with us as we grow accustomed to those changes.  These changes, both to Junior Church and to our main morning worship, will begin after Easter and will be reviewed by the PCC in January 2007.  In the meantime please pray for Ralph and me as we plan the precise nature of those changes, and in particular pray that God would bless his richly diverse and growing family here at Astbury.


                    Jeff Cuttell



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