Rachel Writes – November 2020

My Dear Friends

The past seven months have changed many things. Life here at St Nick’s has not escaped those changes. As I hope you are aware, this month’s magazine is going to be the last. Over the past few months we have found that using a weekly newsletter, with regular ‘thoughts for the week’, from the team has provided more flexibility than a parish magazine. As we travel towards the new year, now seems the time to act and put our venerable magazine ‘to bed’. I know some will mourn the magazine’s passing, but the PCC are right in my view to think it is right to call time on it.

The ‘closing’ of the magazine strikes me as a good opportunity to look back. So much has shifted in our life together over the past twelve years since I joined you. Leaving aside the seismic shifts generated by the pandemic, I think we’ve witnessed a congregation that has grown in confidence and focus. Certainly, the profile of the congregation has changed. So many friends have gone to glory and we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Many of those friends were long-term members of the congregations who had memories of Burnage stretching back decades. Our current congregation includes a good spread of ages, but the profile of our congregation is even richer than it was when I first came. I think there is greater confidence about how we do mission too. That is, I think there is real confidence about how we serve our local community and invite them into the life of Christ. St Nick’s is always going to be an unusual parish – we don’t have nursing homes or a church school, for example – so we have to be creative. Oh, how we’ve been creative! I don’t think any of us could have expected the flurry of arts and theatre we’ve witnessed over the past decade or so.

For me, St Nick’s has been and continues to be a very happy place to be. That’s primarily because St Nick’s has never lost sight of its central focus. At its heart is worship and worship centred around the Altar of our Lord. Week-by-week, even during the heights of lockdown, we managed to find a way to worship. If digital worship wasn’t for everyone, we still kept the rhythm going. That rhythm is going to be crucial not just in the months to come, but in the years to come. To keep the structured and disciplined routines of prayer, including the wonderful Taize service, is going to sustain and deepen our faith.

So, as we say ‘farewell’ to our magazine, we look forward with hope. My thanks go out to the editors of the magazine during my time as Rector: Roy Cookson, Alison Mills, Rachel Varughese, Giles Elliot and Storm Janeway. Each has brought their own mark and each has been valued. Here’s to the future! Onwards!