REWORKING OF THE STATEMENT OF VISION & VALUES GIVEN TO THE PCC IN JULY ‘14
St Stephen’s Church – our Statement of Faith
We have a vision of people gathered to explore and express faith in God, as many have done in this place for hundreds of years. We aim to do this by being open to the love of the Father, the truth of Jesus shown in the Bible and the work of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives – helping us to draw others into a living relationship with Jesus and to serve the community.
Our Vision – in a few words
“Open doors, open hands, open heart”
Our Vision – in detail
Our vision has been slowly maturing since the church entered into a new relationship with Chapelfield and the city centre, during the time that Revd. Hereward Cooke was the vicar. At that time, the congregation asked itself what kind of community it could be in the City, and what activities should take place in the church. Transformation began with the reclamation of the churchyard to form an attractive thoroughfare connecting the new developments on either side. Discussions progressed in relation to the building, but it was not until the appearance of a threatening structural crack, coinciding with the arrival of Revd Madeline Light, that a major remodelling project was launched to make it – like the churchyard – fit for today’s users.
What this means for us – our Values
The highly visible transformation that took place in the churchyard, and the differences between the churchyard ‘before’ and ‘after’ the work was undertaken, have characteristics which are mirrored in the transformation of the church building itself. Both have become more safe and accessible; both have become more attractive; both are aimed at serving the community, whilst allowing church uses to retain priority. Above all, the facilities have been transformed in ways for people of today to use and to enjoy. The reclamation of the churchyard has become much more than the ‘making of a highway’ through it; the path we took to repairing the crack has gone far beyond ‘setting the house on a rock’. Both have provided us with a profound image of the kind of community we aspire to be.
We have discovered that the Values we share today also have metaphors in the transformation of the exterior and interior spaces, and what they permit. So we have Openness (as in the thoroughfare, the glass doors, and level floor), Hospitality (as in the wall to sit on, and the coffee bar), Prayer (as in the well-lit path, and warmth of the new heating system), Sanctuary (as in the de-cluttering of the spaces, and making the grounds ‘wholesome’ again) and Freedom (through the removal of fixed pews, and the permissive routes through the churchyard). So too, the ancient foundations support a structure which is outwardly unchanged, but which is transformed inside to accommodate both traditional and informal styles of worship, and the scope for new activities.
Both the grounds and the building have indeed become a ‘new wineskin’ for the aspirations and activities of all ages of ‘today’ people.
We sense that we now need to turn the opportunities afforded by the ‘new wineskin’ into activities which resonate with our Vision of “Open doors, open hands and open heart” while developing the character identified in our Values: openness, hospitality, prayer, sanctuary and freedom. In planning our activities, we will listen to God, stay flexible, keep the needs of all ages in mind and keep a simple forward looking focus in all we do.
Open Doors: This is about access – the access people will have to service, and to the nurturing of their spiritual lives. The physical doors will be open more hours on weekdays especially as the café develops. The challenge is being open on Sunday. Due to our position new people enter the church during worship on Sunday, so continuing to adapt our worship pattern for modern people of all ages will be a priority. We will need to review the website design to reflect our vision and values.
Open Hands: are to be expressed primarily through acts of service and the way we behave towards one another as ‘family and friends’. The principal means for doing this is likely to be the Café, supported by other activities and uses of the building, and one-off help offered to individuals, whether by Small Groups, or by the church as a whole. Some of the courses we will offer – such as the CAP money course – will be acts of service as well as a means by which we shall nurture our spiritual life (our ‘discipleship’).
Open Heart: will be worked out through a greater variety of ways to pray and live together, with the aim of nurturing our spiritual lives (our ‘discipleship’). Small Groups are likely to be the chief means for achieving this, and will include some of the courses we have already been offering, such as ‘Freedom in Christ’ and ‘Alpha’. Skilled listening will be available within the church to offer support with bereavement, emotional concerns and healing.
As we walk out our Vision, we will keep in mind the Values we share, which define the character of ‘Christian family and friends’ we aspire to become and invite others to join.
Reference from the Bible
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Rev 3:20
23 August 2014