Building a Bright Future

Introduction

Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29.18)

To be effective an organisation, such as the Parish Church of Saint Paul, Manningham, requires a plan. We live in an increasingly changing world, and it is our privilege to interpret the Gospel message to the diverse community that lives in this parish. The aim of this five year plan is not to stifle creative thinking; rather it exists to ensure that the gifts that God has given each one of us contribute to building the Kingdom in this area.

The building we currently occupy has been an inspirational witness to the Risen Christ on its present site for over 150 years; its spire is a landmark in the area, and a reminder to us that the building is at the centre of this area as Christ should be in our lives. The building, in some parts, is tired and needs refreshing. It is therefore our hope that we can both maintain and improve it so that it can offer hospitality, refreshment and security to the local community. Improved facilities will be a base from which we can share God’s love and reach out, in confidence, into the community.

Like many organisations involving volunteers as well as paid staff we have challenges of how to work collaboratively. We must continue to value those who are not paid but who give generously of their talents and energy. We are also aware that we need to ground what we believe in what we do, and if we are honest we know that most of the time there is a great gap between belief and practice.

This vision for The Parish Church of Saint Paul Manningham 2014-2018 is written for anyone who is intrigued in discovering what the heart of our church is like.

If you are an angry fundamentalist, sceptic, agnostic, or an atheist; if you find religion and the church boring; if Saint Paul’s Church is just a building you walk by on your way to the local schools and shops; or if perhaps you are one of the many who feel deeply embarrassed by religion but are still bothered about the questions it poses; if you are not at ease with your life, then read on and see what happens.

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The Parish Church of Saint Paul Manningham

The Parish of Manningham came into being in 1984 with the closure of Saint Luke’s Parish Church that year. Its mission church of Saint Silas, built in 1912, and situated on Farfield Street had been closed in 1958. The congregations joined to become Saint Paul with Saint Jude and Saint Luke. 1958 had seen the closure of Saint Mark which was built in 1874/75 in Grosvenor Square. 1958 also saw the closure of Saint Michael and All Angels, situated on City Road, and amalgamated with Saint Mary Magdalene which became part of the new Parish of Manningham.

The population of the Parish of Manningham has always been in a constant state of change. These days we have church members from other parts of Bradford, as well as members from abroad. There are many houses and flats in Manningham which are rented, so it is not unusual for people to come and join us for a short while before they move on. On the other hand, some of our members have been worshipping here for 70 years or more! The one constant throughout all these changes is the church building itself, but even this has had its fair share of alterations. Saint Paul’s Church has been reordered three times, the last occasion leaving the original nave as the body of the worship area and the chancel and Lady Chapel. The north and south aisles were sectioned off to form a large hall, an eating area, meeting room and kitchen.

Saint Paul’s Church has through all the changes quietly got on with the job of spreading the good news of the Gospel within Manningham, and its people have consistently provided their clergy with unstinting support.

Over the years the area has seen tremendous change both economic and social but the church has remained faithful to its purpose. It’s important that the building situated as it is at the centre of Manningham is also at the heart of the community. The use and layout of the building and its grounds will need careful thought, to enable Christian witness to continue and develop for the many challenged years that lie ahead.

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It is hoped that an updated building and grounds will encourage people to walk in a pleasant green area and perhaps through our doors to use the facilities. Just stand and watch the numbers who walk past the church each day. Perhaps one of those is hoping to see something that will draw them in.

All in all Saint Paul’s Church is facing an exciting period. It has a welcoming heart, and if the building had arms I am quite sure it would hold out those arms and say welcome. Perhaps we need to speak with our architect!

We face a challenging time, but we have nothing to fear. Based on a foundation of prayer this church will shine out as a beacon in Manningham, proudly proclaiming that Jesus is Lord!

Why are we here?

It is always worthwhile taking a step back and asking the simple question of ‘why are we here?’ There can be a danger of just carrying on our activities without once asking why are we doing it?

For this reason a “Mission Statement” can be helpful. It is vital, after all, that we are a mission shaped church.

This shouldn’t be seen as a management talk but a method by which we can all understand where we are trying to get to and how we are going to get there. Our joint efforts will then ensure we move forward together.

The animal kingdom teaches us a lesson in this respect. When geese fly, as each bird flaps its wings it creates uplift for the bird following. By flying in a ‘V’ formation, the whole flock has 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. This is surely an indication of the benefits of working together on our journey towards an agreed destination.

Our Mission Statement

The Parish Church of Saint Paul Manningham

strives to be at the heart of the community

making known the love of God

revealed in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

This simple statement should allow us to capture a glimpse of God’s vision for our church. It should allow the people who contribute to Saint Paul’s Church to have a shared purpose, and to understand where we are heading.

All this will take time. God isn’t out for short-term gain, his imparted vision will almost certainly be for the long term, and indeed the vision is likely to be open ended. Initially there may be very little to see, but what God can achieve through us in his own good time will be astonishing.

Our vision of course must be realistic. It has been said that most people overestimate what they can achieve in one year, but underestimate what they can achieve in five years. This is a five year plan…I wonder where we will be in five years’ time.


The next step

In all this we must not miss the centrality of God’s Kingdom. God is the Lord of the Church, and Jesus promises to build his church and to provide the gifts to do this. Although the Kingdom is central, a place where God reigns, it is not the sole property of the church. We must therefore engage with the local community in all we do.

If we accept that God’s Kingdom is at the heart of our existence, representing the world of our own lives and concerns, then four major areas of responsibility and commitment in our lives follow.

Central is the concept of the active rule and reign of God in Jesus Christ, touching all areas.

These four areas are:

  • Community
  • Church
  • Work
  • Family

COMMUNITY

We will endeavour to make known the love of God revealed in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in our community by:

Supporting the local community

This will be achieved by considering…

  • opening the building and grounds for use by everyone
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  • provide a safe meeting place for young people including homework and other ‘quiet space’ type clubs
  • providing a daily cafe
  • creating a Scout Group
  • working with other denominations
  • working with other faiths
  • form a Silver Club for the elderly
  • form a Cooking Club
  • be a voice for the local community
  • continue to develop drop in events

Telling the community

This will be achieved by considering…

  • a mission to the area
  • an After School Club provision
  • giving us confidence to talk about our faith
  • continuing and improving our involvement with local schools
  • reaching out (website, notice boards, leaflet drops)
  • reviewing services

Support efforts to improve Manningham as a place to live

This will be achieved by considering…

  • supporting local business
  • marketing the area as ‘Marvellous Manningham’

CHURCH

We will endeavour to make known the love of God revealed in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in our church by:

Worship

This will be achieved by considering…

  • how we base all our decisions on prayer
  • exploring new forms of worship
  • providing a warm welcome
  • exploring new ideas in music reviewing the long term suitability of the pipe organ
  • encouraging more participation from all ages in our worship

Buildings

This will be achieved by considering…

  • implement ‘Buildings Action Plan’
  • implement ‘A Resource for All Plan’
  • ways to create a secure and sustainable financial base

Teaching

This will be achieved by considering…

  • organising a course to give confidence in sharing our faith
  • developing House Groups
  • utilising sermon series
  • producing heritage and guide books for church
  • seeking out skills already within the congregation

FAMILY

We will endeavour to make known the love of God revealed in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in families by:

Supporting the ethos of the family

This will be achieved by considering…

  • providing support centres (debt, alcohol advice etc.)
  • providing a coffee morning for passers by

WORK

We will endeavour to make known the love of God revealed in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in our work places by:

Making social comment where applicable.

This will be achieved by considering…

  • providing opportunities to discuss work place issues
  • providing information on relevant social issues
  • supporting Fairtrade initiatives

Getting people into work

This will be achieved by considering…

  • organising career advice for young people
  • providing advice for ‘job-seekers’
  • providing English as a second language classes

Conclusion

It is important that this document does not just end up lying idle on bookshelves. It is hoped that it will be constantly referred to, and that it will become tatty, faded and dog-eared with use. Only then will it contribute to what we want for this place that means so much to us. Then the Parish Church of Saint Paul Manningham will be at the heart of the community making known the love of God revealed in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

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