I spent the evening today in two meetings of 'Parochial Church Councils' (PCCs) which govern the running and maintainance of Churches in the C of E. This may sound vaguely pergatorial to most people (and note, i have never used the word pergartorial before, and besides the Anglican Church doesn't official subscribe to any doctrine of pergatory) but actually they were two good meetings, the first chaired by my friend, mentor and 'senior partner' in the Team, the Team Rector, and the second by myself.
Now in these meetings there is usually a heavy emphasis on the buildings which the Parishes are responsible for, and in these rural parishes that is often a large, stone built, ancient (minimum 500 years old) building. For many ministers this obsession with 'plant' drives them mad, but i felt this evening' s discussions were very positive. We talked of our Church buildings not just as 'built heritage', which is an important but not exclusive aspect of their nature, but as centres of community. It may not seem particularly groundbreaking to most of you who read this, but in terms of the mentality of most Parishes this was wonderful, exciting, vibrant and slightly fluffy all in one!
The reason i stick with all this stuff, the reason i work stupid hours and tire myself out, the reason for my ministry as a Parish Priest, is exactly this, to meet the needs our our communities, to be a Christian presence in the midst of a rapidly fragmenting community and to show the love of Christ to all people in our villages. If the PCCs of these parishes are considering our role as being at the heart of the community, of offering an alternative to the overwhelmingly self-centred individualistic culture in which we live, if the concern with our Church buildings is to safeguard not only their heritage, but the active role of being Christian community then i have actually managed, with the help of wonderful colleagues and prayerful Christians, to do something that is good, and right, and holy. Hooray!