One of the privileges of being a Minister in Abbots Langley is being able to participate in the tremendous relationship between Christians of different denominations.
I joke that whilst Methodist Ministers are temporary and vicars are permanent, I somehow seem to have said goodbye to one Catholic Priest, two vicars and a curate in my three years here. I thank God for Paul’s inspiring lay leadership of the Baptist Church – he is the one giving some continuity around the place.
I’ve no doubt that we will continue to work closely with St. Lawrence’s under Peter’s leadership: we’ve already participated in his Induction Service and when you read this we will have joined them for the Covenant Service. Both Peter and Father Paul will bring new inspiration to their churches, but I confidently pray that we will continue to work in new and exciting ways across the churches.
When we plan joint worship – either at St. Lawrence’s or at the Baptist Church – it is soon obvious that we have some different habits and rituals. Similarly, Peter’s formal welcome included the ceremonial handing over of the keys. That was quite different from my experience when I arrived but nevertheless contains a rich symbolism.
I continue to find the combination of common vision with respect for difference incredibly powerful when we talk to people who seldom come in contact with church. For example, taking an assembly for the school in the St. Paul’s Langleybury church is a healthy reminder that we are all on the same side. (Even though I forgot and used the wrong version of the Lord’s Prayer.)
I am challenged by the fact that many people are surprised to see this shared outlook in action: the popular myth is that we are in fierce competition.
I think that CTAL will change under new church leadership, but I hope that it does.
God is leading us on a journey and encouraging us to kick up the tent pegs and journey with him.
God bless you