Our readings in staff prayers on Monday and Tuesday were about Noah and his ark (for any clergy readers, yes we do use the lectionary for staff prayers!).
That has felt very appropriate for us at the moment. We have had a church centre for the last five years and we thought that we had agreed an extension of the lease before Christmas. Well last year we were surprised to be told that they wanted a large increase on the rental above and beyond what we had agreed. We could (and would not) agree to this and are very disappointed in our landlords. Our lease therefore runs out on April 30th.
The PCC overwhelmingly agreed on Monday evening that it would like for us continue having a church centre and would like us to look for alternative places. We don’t want to be rushed into a new centre and make the wrong decision and so we will look carefully and if necessary do without one for a while. Some time may well be necessary to find the right place for us and therefore we need to look at a more moveable way of working.
So, like Noah, we are preparing for life without the normal things around us. We are looking at how we can work as a staff team without the church centre and what that will mean for us as a church.
There is, obviously, some discomfort in having to re-work how we work as a church but over and above that is a great spiritual truth that issues like this give us an opportunity to see what is really important to us. Like Noah, who had to leave his familiar surroundings, so we will need to leave our surroundings that have become comfortable and familiar to us. We will need to look to new ways of operating without losing things that are important.
Some of the things that we are looking at are the practical matters such as storing all our church data on a “cloud” – we are looking to use central data storage such as dropbox or box.net to allow us to access files from wherever we are working rather than having to get to a particular machine for example. Or looking at ways in which we can gather as a staff team or meet people or have meetings without a centre.
Like Noah, who could not have imagined what life was like on the ark or how long he might have to be on there, so we don’t know whether this will be a few weeks or a year or more that we will need to be “wandering” in our virtual ark. What we can know is that God is with us and guiding us as we move forward. This is an opportunity for us to grow in our faith by seeking God’s guidance and learning through this experience and I think that I speak for the staff team when I say that we know that God is with us in this journey that we are about to undertake.