As we begin to work in this new ‘Covid – 19 World’ we have to do somethings in a different way. As we think about about holding our APCM in a different way this October, I have been reflecting on the role of our Joint PCC. The role and the mission is probably more vital now than in recent history. Your role as a parishioner of St Mary’s or St Helen’s is so very important. In times of crisis and hurt the Church of God must be a bridge builder, a reconciler and a servant of all people in need. At the coming of a new PCC we must work together in hope, trust and love
Reflection on a PCC (Part One)
Are you a newly appointed member of our Joint PCC, or someone who has just left the post or was a member many years ago? This is to remind the churches that the PCC is NOT just a self interest – talking shop!! (And at times to remind members of the PCC of this fact also.) The gifts we need in our PCC are graciousness, humility, holiness, honesty, forthrightness and good at holding ones council. The gifts I don’t want to see are gossiping, spreading rumours or being too parochial – by this I mean only interested in your own church. To understand how serious this ministry is we must realise that the values and gifts are from God, which means those in the negative list are from the devil! Each of the negatives are sinful. I’m emphasising this because the role of our PCC has never been as important at it is in this present climate. This is how God has chosen to work in the Anglican Communion since its conception, Ministerial Orders and Laity working ‘in Communion’ with each other under the inspiration of God. Each group has specific roles.
How does the Holy Spirit work in our churches?
Think about the meaning in the following two prayers.
God, who from of old taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit. one God, now and for ever.
you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church
to lead us into all truth:
bless with the Spirit’s grace and presence
the members of this synod/PCC etc.;
keep us/them steadfast in faith and united in love,
that we/they may manifest your glory
and prepare the way of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Church is a twofold organism – in the humanity of you and me it can ere and be sinful. But in the Church, the Body of Christ – the church cannot ere, it cannot be sinful nor mistaken. For Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. Jesus called the Apostles to be the leaders of the church, His Body. But this isn’t leadership like in business, it is a leadership of service and charity. A Rector, has the authority to preach, teach and serve, to profess Jesus as Lord and to stand up for the Gospel values. Some clergy take this role to be a benign dictator or some less benign. But I have always seen that to lead a community on their journey to Christ means to walk within the middle of the community. At this time in the church’s history we must walk with generosity and courage in the light of the Holy Spirit. We must Live in Hope.
WHAT IS THE PCC? The Parochial Church Council is the governing body of a parish church. It is also a charity. A PCC with an annual income of more than £100,000 must be registered with the Charity Commissioners; those with an income below this threshold, whilst not currently required to register, must comply with all other charity laws. The PCC has legal status and the Church Representation Rules apply.
WHAT DOES THE PCC DO? The PCC is a team made up of members of clergy and lay members of the church. Together they are responsible for the overall wellbeing, practical as well as spiritual, of their church, the church members, and the church buildings. The PCC also has a duty to promote the mission of the church within the wider community. Some of the responsibilities are devolved to the Minister and Churchwardens but to quote from the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956 section 2 ‘It shall be the duty of the minister and the PCC to consult together on matters of general concern and importance to the parish’. Members of the PCC have the right to be consulted, to know what is proposed, and to have the opportunity to express an opinion on it. The Minister is Chairman of the PCC though he may on occasion ask another member to chair a particular meeting. A treasurer, a secretary and vice-chairman will usually be elected to office at its first meeting after the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). The PCC will also appoint a standing committee, typically the Minister as chair, the churchwardens, the treasurer and two elected members.
PRAYER AND WORSHIP. Prayer and Worship are at the heart of the work of the PCC. The PCC should ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place for public worship and provide an opportunity for people of all ages to meet for prayer and worship. In practice this might mean agreeing on the format and timings of services that will meet the needs of the church members, providing facilities for younger members and families, setting up Bible study or prayer groups etc.
MISSION AND OUTREACH The PCC has an important part to play in promoting the mission of their church, amongst the congregation and in the wider community, and members of the PCC should demonstrate their commitment to the Christian ethos, through leadership, by example and by witness, in the parish. The PCC is encouraged to develop, and maintain, a Mission Action Plan (MAP), to review the life of the church and identify mission opportunities.
PASTORAL CARE The PCC and its members have a duty to support their clergy, prayerfully and personally. They have a duty to support the members of the congregation and to extend a welcome to all who visit the church, to members of the church community and to those visiting the church at other times. The church has a duty of pastoral care to all who live in our communities, whether members of the church or not, and PCC members are expected to take the lead in demonstrating that care.
Reflection on a PCC (Part Two)
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” CS Lewis
To be a member of the Church of England is to look at the world through a Christ like prism, although this prism isn’t about seeing everything clearly; nor is it about seeing things and judging all people. That isn’t our job. So often down the centuries Christians thought it was their job to condemn, to execute, to cast out of the community, and to argue among themselves as to who is right and who is wrong, who understands everything and who understands nothing. Imagine what the world thinks about Christians of different traditions who judge others because they are different, because they worship and pray using different methods etc. Gandhi sums it up in this simple statement. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi. In the Derbyshire Dales in 2020 and then in 2021 and beyond we all must show the grace of God to other people. We must serve the people of our communities. God calls us to work together for the coming of His kingdom. It’s not my kingdom nor yours. Together members of St John’s, St Helen’s & St Mary’s must work together. I cannot make it clearer than these words – we must all work together. We must not be judgemental nor selfish nor full of self interest. For those on the PCC this is even more serious. There is no room for people who are only interested in ’their parish’ or ‘their way of worshipping’ or ‘their way of service’ to people. A Christian is a person who is faithful to Christ in the community of the faithful. To be Christian is to be social. Social means to care for all and to serve all and to love all. This starts with the Person of Christ and then the people who Christ created – the whole world. CS Lewis tells us how to be a Christian, he says: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
Members of the PCC are called to specific leadership roles. But everyone in the church community has very special roles. Apart from taking part fully in our PCC meeting members are also called to deepen their devotion, to deepen their daily prayers and acts of loving charity, to really reflect on the topics we discuss and, again, not in a self interested way but for the glory of God and the building up of His kingdom. Faith is difficult if it’s lived out with grace and love. My Final quote from CS Lewis reminds us that our Christian faith isn’t simply about a nice, warm fuzzy feeling. “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
― C. S. Lewis
One aspect of the faith we share is from our Catholic forefathers and mothers. I’d ask you to reflect on them and allow them to touch onto your own faith life. My final point is that we are all able to learn about our faith if we look at our history. I love to read about the Methodists, the Catholics and the Orthodox Churches. Their deep spirituality teaches us about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God our Father.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St. Jerome
“Since Christ Himself has said, “This is My Body” who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body?” St. Cyril of Jerusalem
“Teach us to give and not count the cost.” St. Ignatius de Loyola
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you”. St. Augustine
My challenge in these two reflection is to help us all stand up with joy and hope in the love of God but also to challenge us all. These coming years are going to be difficult but our faith and our hope is in Jesus Christ. We’ll go through Good Friday more than once; and yet we must never forget we are an Easter people. Alleluia !!