‘BUILD BACK BETTER’ – the new buzz words

Strange times… The RFU, following the national debate on racism, are to re-consider the singing of ‘Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot’ at England games. They don’t want to ban it. They want the fans to know what it is they are singing – a song of radical hope and freedom from slavery. They want to ‘build back better’ with fans who have a deeper understanding of the issue of racism – historic and present.

Strange times… BP will not re-open all of their oil production and refinement facilities. They argue that lockdown has given them the opportunity to re-evaluate the speed at which they move to being a provider of carbon neutral energy. They want to ‘build back better’ for the sake of the environment.

Strange times…. Following lock down, Chichester Cathedral will not re-open their lose making cloister café and the gift shop, if it does re-open, will be moved into the Cathedral.

They have to ‘build back better’ to balance the books!

So, what about us – Harbour Churches? Can we, should we, ‘build back better’? As Rector that is now my main consideration and concern. Like so many other organisations we can’t overlook the opportunities we have been given to create a new normal – NOT building back to where we were, but moving out to build on the many ways in lock down we’ve been able to be such a blessing to our communities. My work is to make sure we hold on to those new ‘blessings’ and be fearless in leaving behind all the ways that we were ‘locked in’ despite having open church buildings.

That challenge is already upon me – and upon you. To open our churches, we need volunteers. Fewer volunteers = less time open (agh! – even though we’ve been more open with closed churches!).  Revd Sarah is doing a great job ensuring that when we do open (Sunday 28th June ?) it will be in the safest way possible. So far we’ve had 16 people volunteer – 2 for Itchenor, 10 for Birdham and 4 for WW. NB 2 volunteers = 1 hour open.

Now, before lock down aka ‘locked-in’, this would have meant that we could open Itchenor for one hour, Birdham for five hours and West Wittering for two.

It’s pretty obvious that the ‘build back better’ solution would be to share out the sixteen people around all three churches – assuming of course that the 16 volunteers are willing to serve ONE church and not just an individual building and its particular congregational club.

As your Rector there is only ONE church I feel called to serve. When we come out of lock down I don’t think I can go back to serving three churches – let alone trying to lead them.

It is now my conviction that the way to ‘build back better’ is to embrace not only what enthuses me in ministry but, I suspect, many others – that the only thing the church is called to do is to build a kingdom of blessing to the glory of God and build it as ONE church blessing not just three villages but so much more!

Assuring you of my prayers and trusting to yours
Jonathan

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