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Rob's Blog Archive

ERob's Blog Graphicach month our Minister, Rob Hilton, writes to the Christchurch Family.
His thoughts both inspire and challenge us - he doesn't tip-toe around issues, but tackles them head on.
We hope you too will find them of help.

Click on the Title for a printable pdf download.

December 2012 - Prepare For Christmas

Here we go again, treading a familiar path - Advent; the beginning of the Church’s year, getting ready for Christmas. Taking the Christian story from the beginning again.

As with any journey, there’s the external travelling. The decorations, the show (the shopping!) and the outward-going. This year we’re toning down the decorations within the church itself in order to concentrate our energies on mission. Putting effort into the carol singing in the community, the visiting of families and children, the band stand and the Rugby Club again. By our witness and worship and mission, we are the light of the world.

Then there’s the ‘inner journey’, the prayerful inward-going to seek and sustain faith. This year four borrowed paintings, designed for ‘easy access’ will help focus the familiar advent themes. We’ll light a candle by each one as it speaks to us of Christ, the light of the world.

Simply put, the advent themes are as follows, the faith we both seek and express
1  The people of God - what are our hopes that are met in Christ?
2  The Old Testament Prophets - what is the peace that is promised in Christ?
3  John the Baptist announces the imminent arrival - what do we know of God’s Love in Christ?
4  Mary the mother of Christ first knew the joy of Christ’s presence within, what joy do we know now?

I hope you will find these themes, and the pictures enough of a focus to allow time for prayerfully travelling the journey of preparation for celebrating Christ himself at Christmas.

Rob HiltonEach picture stands alone; why not spend a few moments in the week prayerfully reflecting on the paintings, they will remain in the worship area. Why not invite a friend to come and see too? Prayerfully seek the light and shine it, as we go out in mission and witness to our community. As each picture is added, you will see there is a common element to them also, what is it and how does it speak to us today?
There is deliberately no painting of Christ, for He is real, He is here, He is now, He is light, and that reality needs no picture to celebrate it, just our hearts and minds journeying in faith.

Take time to prepare for the celebration, and let that light shine!

Happy Advent,

Rob Hilton

November 2012 – Act on the Message

At our first new style Annual Congregational Meeting in October, we made plans for the future. The leadership team have been taking very seriously the Christchurch founding mission statement, found rather beautifully written out in our main entrance porch area. They’ve been pondering the eight bullet points of mission, and, to my mind they’ve been taking the advice of the apostle James seriously too:
“Be sure you act on the message” (James 1 v22)

James’ point was: live out your faith, make sure your faith makes a difference, speak out what you live out, and live out what you say.

The leadership team are formulating a five year plan which tries to take apart those vision documents and break them down into do-able 1, 2, or 5 year projects. It will then be the responsibility of the 7 portfolio holders to oversee their implementation.

This might sound rather dull and managerial, but I reflected at the congregational meeting also on Acts 15 v28: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and our decision....”. Christchurch has a tradition of acting on consensus, fathoming out what God is saying, agreeing on it together, and then totally committing ourselves to implementing that decision. So far we seem to agree, and the mood of our meetings suggests that we are in tune with God too.

Perhaps it would be better therefore to call our five year plan, God’s five year plan for us, our role then is as his friends and servants. Whether it’s exploring the possible idea of a children’s soft play area (nicknamed ‘Dan’s Den’), or finding grants for a new roof, or planning a programme of Housegroup study on spirituality, or how to fine tune our pastoral visitation and care, we can say as God’s people at Christchurch “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and our decision....”

This is then the confidence which comes from the gospel at our heart: Christ at the centre of the Church at the heart of the town. To that end it’s on with the work!

Your minister and friend, Rob Hilton

October 2012 – Re-enchanting Christianity

As I write, I’m still throbbing with the excitement and challenge that comes after Greenbelt, a festival that always reminds me of what sort of Christian I want to be but so often don’t manage.

I’m now asking myself: “Is it time Christianity grew up? Is it time for it to be reborn”? Or as Dave Tomlinson puts it should we be “re-enchanting Christianity?”

Although Jesus promised to the thief at his side that he would be with him in paradise, the prayer he taught his followers was “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”. Jesus’ whole ministry of teaching what Judaism actually meant, healing the sick the doctors couldn’t help, and delivering those oppressed by dark powers was always more about that kingdom coming on earth.

There’s no point in our place in heaven being secured if the fumes from our expensive lifestyles are melting that polar ice, our cultural expectations drive people to mental illness by the stress of modern living and our insipid Christian faith that never moves beyond singing worship songs or keeping sixteenth century language in church!

Christian faith is about being saved, health, deliverance, wholeness and what it means to live fully as a human being. Yes it’s time the church grew up.

But maybe Christianity needs to be reborn – rediscover Jesus as a radical saviour whose job wasn’t to take us to heaven, but to bring us heaven, and for whom salvation meant, as Barack Obama recognises, “heal the planet”. Jesus didn’t only come to save people, he came to save the whole world.

Shane Claiborn at Greenbelt said that most church budgets give away less than 5%, justice for the poor is a budget item, and a small one at that. In the early church, he said, it was the budget. Most of the church budget is used for running the church – when the Lord of the church said “Love your neighbour as much as yourself”. This is a very simple statement but it’s complicated, and when I did a quick calculation I realised that Christchurch gives away three times that percentage, not counting other money given away, and not including the lives of service, voluntary work, and good neighbourliness given in so many ways by our church members.

I suppose what’s really got to me is the question posed by Shane Claiborn “What if Jesus really meant what he said?” Most of us who call ourselves Christians today only live by some of what Jesus said. Yes, it’s time Christianity was reborn and started again, with Jesus.

All of which is very radical, and makes me feel a little better by getting it down on paper, while I wrestle with what it means for myself.

I think re-enchanting Christianity may be my favoured third way, middle way, liberal way forward. We have in Britain about 1600 years of history whereby we have woven the Christian faith into the fabric of our society, our justice system, our political system, and our social and cultural expressions of our life together. Many, even though they don’t know the Lord’s Prayer, are imbued with it somehow – we need to re-enchant it. The comedian Frank Skinner visited Greenbelt this year and was impressed by what he found. Commenting on a Christian festival held in a race course, a place of much betting and drinking, he said Greenbelters had turned a den of robbers into ‘My father’s house – if Jesus was to come here he’d put the tables up’. There’s a vision of Christianity in the midst, relevant yet prophetic, and redeeming, re-making, re-defining the Kingdom of heaven on earth.

Keep up the good work, God bless, Rob Hilton

September 2012 – Being Monastic

Christchurch is more than a church to go to. It is for many a community - either to visit, work for, or belong to. Our vision statement ‘Christ at the Centre of the Church at the heart of the town’ is an expression of our intention to live as Christ’s. Our buildings express this by providing spaces and times to meet, worship, learn, eat and drink. The philosophy of hospitality is a key expression of our gift to serve each other, the town, and our visitors.

Any experience or expression of Church that is authentic is an encounter with Christ - for we are, in St Paul’s often quoted metaphor ‘the body of Christ’.

When the Leadership Team reflected on the results of the stewardship review and tried to discern what was being said when the forms were filled in, we got a deep sense of Christchurch as a community, the body of Christ. We discerned a deeply spiritual character that means the whole building is a spiritual place, to enter it is to encounter sanctuary, to meet the people is to know a sense of the spiritual, to know an encounter of being ‘apart’ from the hustle of life, to be valued and loved, to be treasured and enabled, to glimpse by experience God-in-Christ who liberates the true self.

The word I coin to express all this is Monastic - by which I mean a community who embody Christ in a human form that welcomes all, and seeks only to serve, encourage, liberate and bless - for that is the ministry of Christ.

The conversation at the Leadership Team arose because we were talking about strategic plans for Coffee Centre expansion, a new entrance, toilets, possibilities for Dan’s Den, and  perhaps stage 3 of ‘the Challenge’ to build inside the Atrium (all contained in the vision and architects suggestions, which aren’t forgotten).

To think of ourselves as Monastic?

We either think of monasteries as large ruins owned by heritage organisations, or as retreat places run by unmarried men and women, perhaps on islands or in remote rural settings. But when many of these buildings were built, they were at the heart of community life. People didn’t travel to them to get away, they encountered them in the middle of journeys, business, or daily life. More like motorway service stations than retreat centres, a monastery is a place of welcome, rest, nurture, hospitality, learning, healing, and blessing on the way.

The hymn (no 611 in Singing the Faith) says: “Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you”. Is this a helpful way of expressing who we are and how we express Christ?

Can it inform our strategic thinking and planning of future formation, activity, and building?
Can it redefine who we are and what will go under our new roof?

Please think and pray and don’t be afraid to speak to me or other members of the Leadership team.

Your minister and friend, Rob Hilton

August 2012 - Thank you, God Is Here

As I go on holiday this summer, the usual sense of ‘phew I need a rest with my family’ will be accompanied by a sense of pausing because much has been achieved, and changed. September’s return to work will have much that is new and challenging.

Christchurch is part of a new circuit, and because we decided to get on with it and cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s later, the first year has had a lot of work to do. Setting a realistic and challenging budget, and planning staffing levels and how partnerships will begin to operate has taken up a lot of time. The Rev Arnold Clay has retired this summer, and the Rev Dawn Saunders has moved to a new appointment in Worcestershire. Sept
ember sees a new probationer minister the Rev Rick Ormrod come to Bramhope, Timble, Norwood, and Otley, and in Ilkley we welcome Deacon Liz Day as part time Chaplain to MHA in the town, and ‘Missionary to the Elderly’ an exciting new appointment. We also await a new Vicar at All saints and the Baptists church in Ilkley.

Here at Christchurch our new structures are in place and the leadership team has gelled together and a sense of liberation into a new way of working is felt. A daunting prospect, but new possibilities for leaders to help realise more of our vision. Jonathan continues to work hard and pioneer new contacts with families within the town. The fruit of his work is consistently seen in SCOPE, Dad’s Big Breakfast, Big Saturday, and the parents of children who have come to faith and fellowship through Alpha and Christianity Explored. Following Stewardship groups are meeting to develop the feasibility of realising even more of our vision, and develop the minis
try of the Church.

So the sense of ‘Phew’ is because much has been achieved, I have a great sense of we’ve turned the corner, and the new is emerging.

Where is God in all this change, these late night committees and carefully worked out plans? God is right here in his favourite place - in the midst of it all. I have never felt so much before a sense that God is in all this changing. We are a people who because of our involvement in Housegroups are familiar with the Bible and the way it reveals God with his people, our various acts of worship are grounded in reality and express both our love for God and his word to us; and we are a faithful humble people who get on with serving cheerfully.

God is here in the Coffee Centre welcome and the children's music making, God is present in the pastoral caring and the office administration, God is here in the commitment of each and every one of us who lives out our faith with a very British sense of inadequacy, and God will continue to be here as we continue this work.

So as we take
our holidays various this year, can I say on God’s behalf ‘Thank you people of Christchurch’, rest well and remember the Lord in all our doings. Many challenges lie ahead, and much sacrifice may yet be needed in His service.

See you in September for the challenge!

Your minister and friend, Rob Hilton

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July 2012 - Formation & Striving

A key word for me as a Christian is formation: life is a journey with a past, a present moment, and a future.

For those athletes taking part in the Olympics, years of training, diet, exercise, and discipline will reach their culmination. A few moments of fame maybe, perhaps medals, disappointment, yet the thrill of taking part. To be an athlete is always about formation, whether it’s maintaining fitness, or heading for the next goal. A personal best must be one of the most satisfying moments.

As Christians we are about formation because we are about human growth, in relationship with God through Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. There are perhaps no gold medals in faith, but we are able to head for personal bests. Whether honing our prayer life, deepening our biblical knowledge, or serving God, we are being formed as people. We have our training - keeping spiritual muscles active and taking our place in the community of faith hopefully means we may achieve some personal bests.

Five years ago, God helped me to start losing weight; I lost a quarter of my body weight, and am now only about half a ston
e overweight. I took up running, and could now almost manage a half marathon. But I’m still being formed, for me, keeping fit remains more of a challenge than getting fit. The experience for me has been a very spiritual experience, allowing me to discover much more who I am, in the fullness of human life, in relationship to my Creator God. For me it’s been an achievement, with God my personal trainer.

Whether we are an Olympic Athlete, Coffee Centre volunteer, pastoral carer, professionally skilled and employed person, or retired volunteer, God simply asks us to take part, reach for our personal bests, and be formed as disciples of Jesus.

Because I spent the first 40 years of my life very overweight, and aware of it, I also know that God is gracious, encouraging me on: never with criticism or condemnation, only ever with kindness and grace.

Like St Paul, in Philippians 3: 12-14, I hope we can all say in some way: “I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above.”

God bless, Rob Hilton

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June 2012 – Hang On In There

There’s an old Christian hymn that says ‘Change and decay in all around I see’. Over the last couple of months, we’ve felt the changes at Christchurch, almost, it feels, to breaking point. New Circuit pressures, the stewardship form, financial concerns, the roof, not knowing, feeling uninformed, and how can I have my say? We’re in an unfamiliar place, and the church we know and love perhaps feels stretched and strained.
I’m tempted to drag out my favourite platitude “To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often’ (Cardinal John Henry Newman), but I wonder how useful it is, because it’s so familiar to me. Look at any living being, any organism, body, plant, flock, or ecosystem, and you will see it changes by it’s very nature. If it doesn’t it either becomes stagnant, dead, or fossilised. And, yes, the same is true for the body of Christ, the challenging blessings of Easter are a dawning realisation that Christ is alive, and here in our midst, but there’s a difference, a change, and a fullness of life that takes us even beyond what the disciples knew in
his earthly presence.

I was inspired to hear from a professional working in the field of conflict resolution and cultural change that there are broadly three types of people in a time of change - those who are ready to embrace change, excited by it and energised by it; those who don’t want to change and want to stay with what’s familiar; and those who are frightened by the thought of change, but nonetheless ready to go on that scary journey.

At Christchurch this spring, there has seemed so much change all at once - these three types are not necessarily age related, but I do reflect that the Churches in general, and Christchurch in particular, are perhaps the only human institutions where people of all ages belong together. Children are so used to growing an
d changing physically, intellectually, and emotionally; so many adults are busy working, committed to careers, family life, sustaining elderly parents and their children, they change without noticing it; the retired choose what they are involved in and whether to change or not; the elderly can lament changing circumstances, losses of stamina, ability, and find it hard to let go and let others.
Christchurch has never been the stable, conservative, unchanging traditional image of a church, but recently it’s been stretched so much. Professionals so used to change at work take it in their stride, youngsters may be unaware of the contents of the meetings their parents go to, but see them coming home late, tired, and stressed; and those who want to, but can no longer be involved still have opinions and wisdom that needs to be heard.

The hymn I started with goes on ‘O thou who changest not, abide with me’. Some of us are feeling stretched by all this change need to stop, stand still, and remind ourselves that God is here, God is with us, and he has seen it all before and sustained people through it. I write in between Easter and Pentecost - reminded that Christ is alive and new and fresh, mingled with anticipation of even more blessings to come that will blow us out of the water!

Hang on in there, be still and know God, and look forward to the Holy Spirit’s surprising new joy, sense of purpose, insight, and sending out in Mission.

Your Minister and friend is always ready to listen,

God bless, Rob Hilton

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May 2012 – The Opposite Of Faith

You know I try to be mission minded, to see things from outside the church perspective and try and think how our faith is perceived in order to enable ways of communication to take place.

I was really exercised recently by a thought for the day on Radio 4, and I can’t remember which one it was, when the speaker asked the question ‘What’s the opposite of faith?’ Because I didn’t hear the rest of the broadcast, I’ve been trying to answer that question, and found it very hard. Every time I found an answer it seemed to be negative.

I suppose the first definition of faith is belief. For me, that is most definitely faith in God found in Jesus. But it’s not ‘blind’ faith, it’s based on both a historical reality (however tricky it may be to get at exactly who Jesus was and what happened historically!), and personal experience which is emotional, unexplainable, but convincingly real to me. Which means faith, therefore, is about assent, agreement, commitment, decision - until I’m convinced otherwise I will continue to believe. Which means perhaps the opposite of faith is either certainty, or doubt. It’s a very rare scientist who would say they were certain, and in my experience doubt is also very helpful and healthy because, for me it means asking questions. And I am certain of Jesus, so it’s not the opposite!

Another definition of faith could be trust. More than assent or agreement it means an investment, I trust Jesus with my life; so does it mean that the opposite of faith as trust, is fear? Fear of what? Isn’t true fear always fear of the unknown? In which case trust is about knowing - for me, knowing God, knowing Jesus in intimate terms that means I trust that even the unknown remains loving.

Many people of faith (not just Christians) might say that faith gives them a framework, a world-view, a knowledge based, reasonable, emotional, psychological and social way of seeing the world so that everything else can be fitted into it. This, I suppose is what faith means for me, and its opposite then must be anarchy mustn’t it? If this is the case, then most intelligent and balanced people (and most of us, including me can be stupid and wayward at times!) have faith. We have a way of thinking that means the world makes sense. For me this understanding is drawn from and built on my understanding of God and his relationship with the world of which we are part.

Which I find encouraging because it means that instead of faith having an opposite, it makes faith much more graded, it makes ‘having faith’ or ‘being a person of faith’ a journey of growth, exploration, adjustment and development. Faith is never cast in stone, it’s rarely certain, but it means life makes sense. When it ceases to work, I adjust it, question it, maybe overhaul it, and then move on with it.
Most people inside the church and out are on this journey somewhere, even those who say they’ve lost their faith. My real passion is to encourage that faith journey, and to constantly ask - where does God, where does Jesus and what he said, stood for, and lived out mean to your faith?
More questions I’m afraid, but in this Pentecost season let us trust the Spirit of God to be active in our quest.

Your Minister and friend,
Rob Hilton

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April 2012 – Gay Marriage & Redefining Reality

Christ is alive, Hallelujah! So, what does that mean in April 2012?
It must mean hope, joy, and a purpose out of recent suffering; and as with everything Christian, it must have a missionary edge to it - a relevance beyond the church and any cosy Christian glow (lovely though that glow is!).

During Lent we have heard on the news about gay marriage: Cardinal Keith O’Brien has said, perhaps on behalf of many Christians, that proposed gay marriage would be a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

I’ve wrestled with the concept because I’ve always taken marriage to be a ‘lifelong union between a man and a woman’, though my tutor at college said it was nothing more than ‘socially recognised pair bonding’.
The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres said that after he preached at William and Kate’s wedding he had messages from Muslims w
ho said they had no idea that in Christianity marriage was so central.

So as I ask myself, on the world's behalf, what does Easter mean in April 2012, I find myself thinking: people marry because they are human, not because they are Christian (or, for that matter, Muslim). When Christians marry they make a Christian marriage, but do we have a sole right and claim on marriage? We certainly have a lot of hopes for marriage because we are a people who celebrate joy!

Gay people, like slaves in the past, and black people, and women, have suffered at the hands of oppressive ideas, often perpetuated by Christians. Perhaps it is time to listen to the stories of suffering, hatred, and oppression that many gay people have to tell, and then ask - as we look to resurrection, where is the redemption in that suffering, how can it have a purpose that makes the world better?

One thing Cardinal Keith O’Brien is right about, this idea of gay marriage will “redefine reality”. If there is one thing that the resurrection of Jesus does do it is just that - redefine reality. And that redefinition isn’t limited to 2000 years ago, it is something the risen ascended, glorified and living Christ is still doing today.

Sorry if this is all too
much for you, but Easter does not have much to do with bunnies, daffodils, chocolate, and another bank holiday - Jesus really does shatter oppressive gravestones with an explosion of Hope, a depth of joy, and a purpose to suffering that is astounding and amazing.

Happy Easter & God Bless, Rob Hilton

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March 2012 – Being Honest With God

March, encompassed this year by Lent, a time of asking God to be honest with us, and soul searching for our honest reply. During lent this year we continue to be honest with God as we let him speak to us through the prophet Malachi – challenging our complacency, and asking what is the real worth of what we give to God.

We do this as preparation for our Stewardship renewal here at Christchurch. I suppose part of the Good News is that there is so much potential in our lives - forgiveness, grace, and Love are God’s ways of releasing that potential within us – so that we may be free, and He may work within us.

Within Christchurc
h there is much potential. A stewardship renewal is about trying to fulfil that potential. How can we be the answers to our own prayers? What money can we give to the general running of the church, and to its special projects, its vision, and its needs. What time can we give to volunteer in the coffee centre, or making a rota run smoothly? What special gifts, personality and skills have we got that God can use in His work here at Christchurch? So much vision, so much potential, how shall we decide the faithful way forward under God?

These are the questions underlying the Stewardship renewal that each and every named person in Christchurch will be asked to consider in a thorough questionnaire given out on the last Sunday of March. We’ll be asking you about a dedicated Youth space in Christchurch and what you think of it, ways of enhancing the Coffee Centre, how much you can give to the roof fund and the general running of the church, and ways to support a charity as we do so.

Someone said recently that Stewardship is about ‘running the church’ – how right they were, yes we have a huge institution to ma
nage and administer, but one of the earliest theological books I ever read was Hans Kung’s ‘The Church’. I remember him labouring the point that the Church is the creation of the spirit – as we let God create something with who we are and what we give Him?

Time for some honest soul searching!

God Bless,
Rob Hilton

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February 2012 - I Believe In The Comma

Either Lent and Easter should be later in the year, or Christmas should be sooner in the year! That way the gap between the two could be explored much more fully! It’s that space between the birth and death of Jesus that’s so important. It’s Jesus’ life and teaching that matter! Without them his birth wouldn’t be heralded as such a significant arrival, his death wouldn’t be so meaningful, nor his resurrection such a victory!

I write this article so soon after Christmas, I’m still enjoying the sense of success, if it’s right to call it that, of Christchurch’s Christmas celebrations. They were so beautiful, so joyful, and so well attended! As I write, we are already making plans for Lent and Easter celebrations, that, though very different in tone, I hope will be similarly meaningful, and well attended.

But still everything within me feels cheated of space to hear, listen, ponder, and enact the teaching of Jesus. What does ‘Turn the other cheek’ mean? Who is my neighbour and how shall I love them? What is forgiveness really deeply within me that grace is my whole demeanour? What is the Kingdom of God and where shall I see it?

One of the historic statements of Christian belief says: “I believe in Jesus Christ . . . . conceived of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, . . . .”

Many of us don’t hold much store by these old creeds, but they make the same mistake, to such an extent that someone once said ‘the only bit of the creed I believe is in the comma’. That comma after Virgin Mary actually contains the most important part of Christian faith – the life and teaching of Jesus, the bits we actually need to hear and respond to and build our lives as disciples on.
So as the Christian year marches on so quickly, I hope that you and I will find a bit of time and space to hear the teaching of Jesus and shape our lives accordingly. Then times of celebration, self-denial, and joy, will mean so much more to us.

God bless,
Rob Hilton

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January 2012 – Change & Renewal

Happy New Year - And what a year 2012 is going to be in the life of Christchurch.

This is going to be a year of much change.

Some of it a challenge we have to rise to - we must spend money on the Christchurch roof which needs immediate remedial work, and then a completely new roof within 5 years.

Some of it because we have chosen to change - our stewardship renewal will be about focussing on our priorities as a church and then giving to them of our very best - we shall be studying the Biblical prophet Malachi to inspire us. And, in my mind at least, is the new constitution to Christchurch and the opportunity it offers to slim down and initiate a new committee structure to the church.

And some change is part of the ongoing life of a church and circuit. We will say goodbye to Arnold Clay as a minister locally, and with him the concept of another presbyteral minister in Ilkley besides the Christchurch minister. I shall probably take on being minister of Ben Rhydding Methodist Church as well as Christchurch. Then we shall welcome a diaconal minister into Ilkley as part time chaplain to Methodist Homes and part time missionary chaplain to the elderly of Ilkley and Ben Rhydding.
Change, and lots of it!

To the challenge of change the scientist speaks of evolution, the psychologist speaks of development and growth, and the left-winger speaks of revolution; all are valid and useful words; the Christian speaks of renewal, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. The pessimist may say 'change and decay in all around I see', while the optimist, in faith, may say 'Jesus, you are changing me, you are making me brand new'.
I often remember the saying of the Victorian Church leader Cardinal John Henry Newman "To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often".

2012 may well see much change, but let us again put our faith in the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is faithful, he will never leave us, and through all our changes, he will form his people and build his church, that we may serve his purposes and praise his name always (even if sometimes it hurts a bit!)

Happy New Year, may God bless you, and may God bless us all in 2012.

Rob Hilton

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