Though St Andrew’s is a joyful place to serve, inner city ministry (or any ministry!) is not without its challenges, and each incoming incumbent will bring different strengths to help address these. As a church we recognise that there is more to be done, and would welcome direction for us to work together in these areas.
Unsurprisingly the building, despite an extensive renovation in 2012 and the recent refurbishment of the lighting system, is not without its challenges. We are currently repairing a section of masonry that had become dangerous, but there is more, lower priority, work to be done as well. Our finances, though well managed, do not allow us to pay a full contribution towards the Common Fund, and any major building issues could have the capacity to derail us. The Diocese have always been very supportive in this, and recognise the efforts we have made.
Photo: A view from scaffolding in 2020 during an exploration of the condition of the East window
In common with many churches, re-establishing regular attendance post Covid lockdowns has been a challenge.
The local population is in a constant state of flux, and this is reflected in our congregation. The jump in price from a flat to a house is huge and often dictates a move to a cheaper area when more space is needed - coupled with the churn of career moves and sometimes family responsibilities drawing people away. It often feels like just as someone becomes a highly valued member of the team, they move on. This had been true in the recent history of the clergy also, which has been unsettling for the congregation. The last incumbent was the third in just fifteen years, but then stayed for nine, initially as Curate and then as Vicar!
In line with a congregation of some very high achievers, they are often time poor. Many families are juggling childcare around two full time jobs. We have struggled to establish any midweek groups for more than a very limited period. There is often a verbal commitment that is not (or cannot be) matched in practice. This shows in ‘regular’ attenders often not being in a pattern of weekly attendance. There is a sense of people battling too many demands. There is also the challenge and joy of the diversity of membership - not only the professionals but also a few with learning disabilities, illiterate, large estates of social housing, sometimes homeless guests etc.
Pastoral care is sometimes viewed as being a function of the clergy - both by those being visited and by those who might be the visitors themselves. A group was established and training given… but they have moved on and we are back to square one!
The links with the local community school are very minimal, though overtures have been made, but it would be good to build up the relationship. Similarly, ecumenical links are not strong.