Charles writes: March 2013

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!”

We began the season of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, with these words from the prophet Joel – a call to wake up – a call to action – a call to stand up and be counted. It’s a very appropriate message for the beginning of Lent. Lent is surely a time to sit up – to take stock of where we are in our faith and discipleship – to be honest with ourselves and with God. As Joel says later on,

”Even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart.”

It feels very much where we are at All Saints’ as we enter the final stages of the Barber Rooms Appeal. As we prepare to go out to tender, we still have a funding gap of about £50,000, and we all need both to unite in prayer as grant bodies are still considering our applications, and to join in with our fund-raising activities. Perhaps it is a time especially for us to be aware of our dependence on God’s goodness for this whole project.

But of course the life of the church is very much more than just the Barber Rooms. Our ongoing life and ministry and mission is even more important. This spring is the time for us all to have a fresh look at our involvement in the life of the church.

Once every six years, the Electoral Roll – that is the membership roll – of the church is completely renewed – the old roll expires, and everybody has to rejoin. This month we are renewing our roll at All Saints’ and at St Mary’s. The renewal begins on 1st March , and concludes on Sunday 17th March. Joining the Electoral Roll allows you to vote for members of PCC and Deanery Synod at our Annual Meeting, and in effect therefore makes you a voting member and therefore part of the decision making process of the Church of England. (You do need to be baptised and aged 16 or over to join the roll.)

But at a local level, it’s about wanting to be part of our church family, and being involved in the way that is right for each one of us. To help us to think about this, at All Saints’ we are running a “Church Membership Sunday” on Sunday 3rd March. On that Sunday, we will be thinking about church membership at all our services at All Saints’ – 8.00am, 10.30am and 6.30pm.

From that Sunday, we will be giving out church membership leaflets, with suggestions of ways that each one of us can be involved in the life of the church. There is also a copy of this leaflet at the centre of this magazine which you can pull out and use. The leaflet contains a response sheet, where you can tick boxes to indicate areas you might be interested in, and the Electoral Roll form itself is included in the response form. A larger print version of the whole leaflet will also be available in church. There will be a box for response forms in Church, or you can send your form directly to Maggie Bohm, who is the All Saints’ Electoral Roll Officer (her address is on the form). Please make sure your form is returned by Sunday 17th March.

In a small congregation, issues about church membership are more straightforward. Gill Hudson is Electoral Roll Officer for St Mary’s, and she will have forms for St Mary’s Electoral Roll from 1st March. We will also be having a focus on church membership at St Mary’s – but this will be after the renewal of the roll, at our 9.00am Morning Worship on Sunday 14th April.

If you would like to be on the Electoral Roll, do please make sure you don’t miss out on all of this. And if you’re part of All Saints’ we do hope you’ll be able to join us on Sunday 3rd March.

It is a great privilege to be part of the church family – to be nurtured by the support of others, and also to be able to participate and contribute to the life of the church ourselves. May this month may be a time that helps all of us to find ways we can both give and receive, so that we can all flourish together as God’s family in this place.