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Distinct Churches

The garden at Warmsworth Rectory has taxed and annoyed me. The soil is so varied within the square it occupies; one area is always damp or rock hard with clay; another has a myriad of tiny stones; another is great and friable and a pleasure to work on. The ground also slopes so grass cutting can be a pain. To grow plants here needs some thought and care as some are better suited to one type of soil than another and that is before considering where the sun passes and where is in shade.

I suppose I could have just planted what I liked or what I’d grown in previous gardens but that would likely lead to frustration and probably many dead plants. The Mission Area here in Doncaster is I think comparable to the garden – I could have replicated what I’d done before elsewhere or pushed on with planting what I wanted and cursing the ground or the shrubs when foliage and flower did not emerge. Rather I’ve tried to discern with the ministry team what will be blessed in different settings and how can we draw on our skills and gifts in them.

Come to Loversall; basically a stone building in a field with an outside toilet. A small and hallowed space for eight hundred years it has lent itself to a midweek Book of Common Prayer service.

Come to Wadworth; a grade one gem of a parish church, carefully reordered to have a kitchen, meeting room, toilet and space at the front. The village hears its four ancient bells ring each Sunday morning and we excel at welcome and straight forward Common Worship with a monthly relaxed all age service.   

Come to Warmsworth; a big building that demands bold and reverent liturgy and worship. A separate hall provides space for us and the community. It is here we can offer midweek teaching too.

Finally come to Balby; the building utterly adapted to be a multibank four days a week – food, clothing, household items and a free café for five hundred people a week. And on Sunday at that same café the venue hosts the most informal and interactive worship – with the most vulnerable finding no problem coming in and staying.

The three PCCs operate independently but in November we went away for a facilitated day to think about what makes us distinctive and what links us. We also began to imagine how we could meet around topics and three areas emerged; 1. Buildings and resources, including finance; 2. Mission and Growth, including discipleship and evangelism and 3. People and Diversity; how could we develop ministry and ministers? How could we develop the worship range (already café, Taizé, Messy, Celtic, Prayer Book, Contemporary, Common Worship, All Age).

The day led to this feedback from those present:

“I enjoyed the PCC away day very much. It was good to get together with fellow members of the PCC from our mission area churches. We had a lot discussion and ideas for the way forward for our churches. What was evident is that we are all keen to work together and have similar aims to help our churches grow. I will look forward to the next PCC away day in April 2024”.

“Three very distinct PCC’s came together but with one heart and mission; ‘To see the Church grow and see people come into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ’. With this at the heart of most of the discussion there was a deep sense of unity. Nobody tried to push their own agenda and I believe that if we keep that unity the mission area will become a safe place for people who haven’t visited us yet, to discover the One who said; “I will build My Church….”       

“Even though all Churches in our mission area are very different everyone wanted to see the mission area move forward. It was wonderful that everyone was so positive. Sharing our stories and our experiences we all left feeling very uplifted and full of hope for all our Churches”.

“The away day provided the opportunity to meet other PCC members whom we had not met before and to know their situations, aspirations and plans; also where we want to be in future and what and how we will do and achieve our goals. It was clear that the PCCs will cooperate and support each other. All in all it was positive, productive and an eye opener for our Mission Area”.

So very different ground to work and care, to discern how to develop each and how to join and cooperate wherever we can under God for the mission in each place.

The Rev. Canon Ian Smith – Oversight Minister 

December 2023