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					                      Church without Walls




GOUROCK: ST JOHN'S

Listening and talking beyond the walls
Under the guidance of our minister, Rev Jill Clancy, we have heard over recent months from a
number of guest speakers about Church without Walls and we were delighted that Rev David
Currie, national adviser in evangelism, joined us for our kirk session conference in March.
All elders went to the conference having watched the new Church without Walls video at home
and having been supplied with the associated booklets. We also invited two members of all
organisations within St John's to come along and find out all about Church without Walls; they
found it exciting and challenging.

In February 2004 we held a joint kirk session conference with our friends at Old Gourock and
Ashton Church. Our guest speaker was Rev John Purves from Drumchapel St Andrews Church.
John is co-author of the Church without Walls booklet Together in Partnership, and the
conference theme was 'Living out the vision'. John's presentation was excellent; it was
challenging, inspirational and also very humorous, and it gave both kirk sessions plenty to
think about as we consider how the churches can work together and then what we can do to
take the church into the community.

We are delighted that, following on from the conference, sub-groups from each session have
been set up and have met a number of times. We hope to continue our progress towards
sharing a Youth Development Worker and have met with Iain Johnston of the Parish
Development Fund.

We have produced our own in-house Church without Walls booklet which covers 23
deliverances, outlining what we should be doing to achieve the aims of the report and have set
ourselves another three aims for this session. They are:

      Urge the congregation to form groupings according to our natural community, to
       explore shared missions and mutual ministry with other churches in the area;

      Urge the congregation to research an area of the World Church and establish a personal
       partnership with a congregation or project;

      Urge the congregation to take risks, to try new ways so that faith may grow and
       encourage the wider Church to support us as we do.

Our Church without Walls booklet has been distributed to all elders and has been made
available to the congregation.

Summer MAYHEM
Gordon Grant, Leigh Martin, Phil Craven and Kirsten McKillop, along with our minister, Jill
Clancy, led this year's Impact Mission team which was in Gourock for eight days in July. Once
again, we thank God for the impact He made on the lives of so many children (and adults)
during that time. God's presence was awesome: over the five mornings, 151 primary school
children were in church, 125 being the highest attendance; in the evenings 57 teenagers came
either to J's Café in the church or to the drop-in café at Gourock High School.
The number of Impact team members was down slightly on last year, but the number of local
volunteers rose considerably following the success of Mayhem 2003; it was uplifting to see so
many people of all ages playing such a big part in looking after the team and feeling a part of
the team. This year's residential team was 16-strong, with five of the team our own young
people this was especially pleasing given that we will be having a Church of Scotland-led
mission for the next two years after which we hope and pray, with God's blessing, we will be
enabled to organise ourselves.

We are again grateful that God showered His blessings upon the week of MAYHEM (Mission
And Youngsters Here Every Morning).

God blessed us with excellent living accommodation at the halls of our friends at St Ninian's
Catholic Church (we thank Monsignor Father Tom Monaghan, Lawrence Devlin and the people
of St Ninian's for their help), to one of our own members, Fiona Laing, who cooked every night
for 30 people at Gourock Bowling Club. We also are grateful to the Bowling Club for the use of
their excellent premises and the co-operation shown was a great example of outreach in the
community.

The reason for having two venues in the evenings was, initially, to develop the children and
young people who already come to church, hoping that in the future, as they develop, they will
outreach for us and we will be ready to share with the young people outwith the church.

The groundwork again this year had begun with a street project in the Midton area of Gourock,
where, in the week leading up to Mayhem, a small group of people led by Simon Reid of
Inverclyde Youth For Christ, came together and prayed before walking around the area,
seeking God's will and building relationships with the many young people hanging around the
streets. The young people who attended Gourock High School just loved the opportunity to
chill out and we will be looking at how we can engage with the kids on a more regular basis.

As we seek to maintain our links with the young people, please remember us in your prayers,
especially now that we have J's Café open on a Sunday evening in the church from 7.30pm
until 9pm for secondary school children. Around 40 kids have been attending since September
2003, and they enjoy fun, games, tuck shop, music, videos and, most importantly, learning
about Jesus.

Our experience from MAYHEM has also led to us changing the Sunday morning set-up for the
secondary pupils, with a Chill-out zone instead of the Discovery Group. This seems to have
gone down well.

Ultimately, we would like to open a community café in the area, primarily for the young. Our
vision, however, is that it could be open during the day for single parents, the elderly, the
lonely, or, in fact, anyone who is looking for a comfortable and friendly place to come and have
a coffee and a chat. We would hope that this project would be a 'churches together' effort.

MAYHEM reunion
We hope again to have a reunion in November to renew the relationships that were built up
during the summer event, and to maintaining and continuing links, especially with those
families outwith St John's.
Worshipping with children
After preparation at Sunday Surfers (ages five to 11) and at Discovery Group (ages 12 to 17),
children and young people are participating in communion services. Children also participate in
an agape breakfast and family communion on Easter morning.
The Discovery Group (now Chill-out zone) did the readings at our Lessons and Carols Service
last Christmas as well as holding an Alternative Christmas Service in 2001 where PowerPoint
and overheads were used. Youth services are held on several occasions each year, with
children and leaders from the uniformed organisations participating.

Meetings that people want to attend
Through both verbal and printed intimation, and bi-monthly magazine, members of the
congregation are invited to kirk session meetings. There does seem to be a reluctance for
members to join with us, but we will persevere.
Interestingly, at our September 2002 meeting, when we moved outwith the building, to
Gourock Bowling Club, a large number of non-elders attended to hear our guest speaker, the
Very Rev John Miller. We will continue to look at ways of outreaching to the community and
being seen to do so.
We have improved our communication process by issuing kirk session minutes, agenda and
work group reports at least 11 days prior to the meeting. Those on e-mail receive
correspondence as it is submitted to church secretary. This means more time can be devoted
to meaningful discussion, on topics such as Church without Walls.

It has also enabled us to invite along other guest speakers, and at a specially arranged
meeting in February, the Rev Martin Johnstone, Urban Priority Area (UPA) adviser at National
Mission, told us of the difficulties facing UPA churches.

This has led to us forming a partnership group which will look at ways of establishing a link
with a UPA congregation, and this has already begun with our treasurer assisting a church
within Greenock Presbytery and a sub-group (Partnership) being set up within our Outreach
group.

We photocopy all correspondence from the Board of Parish Education relating to elders
conferences (residential or otherwise) and place this in every elder's mailbox. This gives elders
the opportunity to see what is available regarding on-going training.

At present, we have three home groups attended by 22 people, and we are hoping more will
seek this time of fellowship and learning.

Domestic Abuse
Following a remit from the 2003 General Assembly, our January kirk session meeting heard a
75-minute presentation by Mrs Sharon Sale, Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator for Inverclyde and
PC Lesley Strachan about the enormous problems encountered, particularly by women.
We now publicise contact details for Women's Aid at various points within the church, so that
those dropping off and uplifting children from the various organisations are aware of the help
available.

Servant leadership in worship
At Communion, the elements are now served to the congregation first, then the elders and,
finally, the minister, in line with the Biblical concept of elders being seen as a serving ministry.
Elders have conducted morning worship on five occasions in the last year, with another
planned for November, 2003. An elder has also conducted a service in a home for the elderly.
Three members attended a leading worship course run by Greenock Presbytery and four
attended the Church of Scotland worship leaders conference at Carberry on October 24 to 26
2003.

During our discussion on the eldership for the 21st century consultations, it was recognised
that ongoing training would be required and that we would need to recognise the individual
gifts and callings of elders - a four-page booklet has been produced and passed to all elders as
a reminder of our discussions.

Throwing open the doors
Members of our Interecessory Group pray daily for those who request prayer and meet on the
fourth Sunday each month, where around 10 different people lead the service. With the need
for prayer so evident in the church, community and world, we now hold an evening service on
the other Sundays in the month where we have times of prayer, praise and worship.
As part of our outreach to the local community, groups with no connection to the church have
held concerts, displays, etc. in the sanctuary. This follows the redevelopment of the sanctuary
in 1998 when the pews were removed and replaced with a wooden floor and moveable seating.
This has given greater flexibility and MAYHEM could not have taken place without the
sanctuary space being able to be utilised. Praise the Lord.

Children 24-hour conference
St John's is pleased to host this conference on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October, 2004. We
look forward to welcoming people from around the country. 24 Hours To Save Your Church
is a conference that will explore the dynamics of youth ministry today and equip us to buil d a
church without walls for young people.
Special guests are Graeme Brooks (Inverclyde Youth For Christ), Alison Thomson (Moderator,
National Youth Assembly), and Iain Morrison (The Funktion Trust), with Sheilah Steven
(National Adviser in Elder Training), Fiona Fidgin (Altared Images, Edinburgh), and Steven
Mallon (National Youth and Young Adult Adviser).

visit www.cosy.uk.net


Website: st-johns.webspace.fish.co.uk

				
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