Last year we published our well received DVD on Parish Share. This short video highlighted encouraging stories of how we use parish share to fund mission and ministry in every parish in our diocese. But what is it like for them one year on. We went back to each parish.
This week – Christ Church Southport
Sitting in his office overlooking the famous Lord Street, Rev Stewart Reid was contemplating a recent immersion baptism conducted in Christ Church’s own baptismal pool. “It’s a real affirmation of faith and delightful to see the thrill of the young people getting baptised in a public, visible high profile way.”
The high profile, visibility expresses the values of Christ Church. With a doorway onto the busy shopping thoroughfare the church is conscious of a need to be a window on the world. So its café has created the ability to have an outdoor piazza style so beloved of the commercial cafes in the town. “we cannot remain behind closed doors” states Stewart “we must be open and outward looking”.
A town centre parish church without much housing within its boundaries is always going to have a need to look to the opportunities of ‘passing trade’. A vibrant tourist destination such as Southport presents more opportunities than most. An example is the Flower Show which has become an ecumenical outreach opportunity where churches across Southport can come together to bring the good news to people. It is about the wider church coming together, working together, and praying together.
“Prayer is the powerhouse” adds Stewart “I am excited by the fact that we come together as a community of Christians to pray for the town. It undergirds all we do”
This sense of coming together as family is important to Christ Church. As a major contributor to Parish Share it would be easy for the church to see this as a tax. However, as Stewart says “it is delusional for the diocese to think of itself as anything other than a family”. As a church it recognises that it is well resourced and is happy to pay its contribution to the wider mission and ministry of the church.
It’s a high profile position in a high profile church that can sometimes feel like a small business rather than a busy church. But all the business aspects enable the church to focus on its prime purpose of bringing the gospel alive.
Which brings us back to the baptism. The buzz, as Stewart puts it, is about getting people on fire for God. Seeing the thrill that that baptism inspired and bringing more people in Christ Church, and across our diocese, to Christ.