view from the pulpit
Anikó was invited to write the very first of this new series in Life & Work, the Church of Scotland magazine, for its January 2023 edition. Here's her reflection:
“OH, you’re a minister – that must be interesting/ intense/ different/ challenging/ etc…”
I don’t know about colleagues, but I’ve heard a lot of variations on the above over the years. And yes, it is all of the above, and much more besides. And it is changing: ministry now is very different to what it was even when I first began my training.
Is it what I expected when I decided to follow the call to this vocation? Yes and no. There’s far more time spent at my desk, staring at a screen, and far less time to read and study and reflect. I now know details about charity law, building management and – not least – health and safety than I ever thought possible. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve become quite a specialist in digital communication: filming and recording services, editing and streaming. It could be argued that none of this has much to do with parish ministry. I’d tend to disagree, though: the legal and administrative aspects frame the community work that we do and enable us to do it safely, and all the newer technological skills are feeding what ministers have always done: communicating, thinking and talking with our communities about God’s love. That is what ministry is all about for me: to love God, to try to do good in the world, and to support and enable others to do the same. How we do that has changed, not least through our experience of the past three years.
In my local context, we are perhaps closer to the heart of our community than we were pre-pandemic, as we have been able to meet people differently, and are, together with other community bodies, able to offer more direct support. Worshipping and offering our services on a Sunday morning is a big part of who we are and what we do: we are encouraged, inspired and challenged in our coming together, to love and serve God and the world not only in our praying, reflecting and singing, but in all that we do. And the worship is not confined to a Sunday morning.
Recordings are accessible at any time, and we now also meet at other times for Forest Church, in a Friday afternoon children’s club, at fortnightly coffee mornings, through a podcast, in the serving of our communities – be that in assisting the weekly soup delivery or a foodbank collection or pastoral support.
Church is changing, and so is ministry. The current restructuring is one of the hardest times I have experienced in my ministry, as some of the changes are so painful, however necessary they are. And the best thing about ministry is the people we are privileged to meet and get to know – and because of these people, the process still is manageable. While the upcoming changes might be difficult, we know that we are navigating them together, as a community, and in God’s presence.
I’ve been so encouraged by the creative and caring ideas for our future ministry, and I’m excited about seeing how the ideas develop. We have spent three years discussing the process, juggling numbers, creating plans – it is now time to continue doing what we are called to do: to love God, and to serve God’s world.