Introduction This profile is written at a time when our churches are just starting to explore and understand what the new normal might look like, after 18 months of relative shutdown, isolation and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many activities are restarting, though some have now stopped due to the lack of human resources to make them happen. Our churches are coming together to form the Rugby East Benefice, which was proposed as part of the wider Rugby deanery plan covering changes across many parts of the local deanery. This change means that St Peter and St John’s (usually know as PJ’s) is changing from having a full-time vicar to a part time vicar. For St George’s the previous post was already part time for half a week. The intention is that this post will serve the churches equally, with half time served for each church and parish. Each church has its own established patterns and ministries, and also its own priorities, concerns and opportunities. The later sections of this profile provide more insight into each of our church communities and parish areas. In this section we are seeking to collectively inform and welcome our future vicar about our hopes and desires. The forming of the benefice has brought its own level of concern and uncertainty, as with any change, but we also recognise that collectively our churches have great opportunities to serve and engage with communities and families in our parishes to the east side of Rugby. We held a joint visioning day in September where our respective PCCs and other key people came together and shared our ideas and thoughts as we look forwards. The output from this day has been very helpful and informative in preparing this section of the profile. Who we are This is an exciting and challenging time to join us as we explore and develop our relationship with each other, and as each church continues its worship and work in their respective communities.
Dedicated, enthusiastic core of people: Both churches have a core of dedicated and energetic people, many of whom are long-term church members. We have proven that we adapt quickly to challenges such as those caused by the COVID-19 crisis and being in interregnum. We have been quick to use new technology and try new approaches to reach members and non-members. As well as a passionate desire to bring new people into the church communities, there is an enthusiasm for picking up new roles and finding fresh ways of doing things. We have the confidence to explore new strategies to achieve this.
New initiatives starting, successful initiatives restarting: We are restarting old and starting new regular initiatives to reach all ages in the community. St George’s has restarted its toddler group, kids club, tea and chat, and coffee mornings, and started a ‘Sanctuary-style’ service, and continues to engage with the parish through a vibrant newsletter delivered to every household. St Peter and St John’s has restarted its toddler group, community lunch, coffee & craft, and other social meeting groups for adults, and its school and local connections have been re-established with plans to develop these. These include further developing the church hall as a community music venue.
Strong focus on Climate Change & environmental issues: We are all aware of how much environmental issues are a huge concern for all, and particularly for the younger generations. St Peter and St John’s is investigating the fitting of solar panels and has a well-used recycling hub for food packaging and cosmetic items. Their veg-beds project has promoted interest in sustainably produced food in the community, and St Peter and St John’s achieved the A Rocha Silver Eco Church award in 2020. St George’s is taking action to move towards becoming a zero-carbon church. For example, they have installed LED lights and plan to be the first church in the Diocese to have solar panels installed.
Flexible buildings used to reach the community: Both churches benefit from large, flexible open plan buildings with movable seating which gives the potential to use space creatively. They are used by various groups, such as playgroups, scout groups, a local choir, dog training courses, and for events such as concerts, Christmas fairs, and fun days, as well as for church services. Through these, the churches have built good links with the local community. The St Peter and St John’s building includes a new parish office, two toilets and baby changing facilities that were completed in 2018. St George’s also has a well-equipped hall and a small bungalow that are hired out, as well as being used for the local ‘Winter Shelter’.
Looking forward to the future: All the above is happening through volunteers during interregnum. St George’s have shown that they can do more than just keep things ticking over. St Peter and St John’s have adapted quickly to the new reality and members have raised their game to keep the church moving. Both churches share a passion for seeing God’s kingdom grow on our streets and have a willingness to follow confident leadership. Both churches are determined to make our joining together to become a new benefice work, and are excited about the potential for growth that a new priest will bring.
Our new Incumbent Description of the Role The role for our new vicar is very much tied to The Mission Purpose of the Diocese of Coventry which is:
Worshipping God Making New Disciples Transforming Communities.
The role is to lead us as a community and support us individually when required, in our worshipping lives. Each church is blessed to have retired clergy with PTO and lay Readers within our congregations, so the new vicar could serve each church on alternate Sundays knowing there is good support for conducting services in the other church.
The role includes leading each of our church communities forward into being a significant and relevant presence in our local parish areas. Each church recognises the need to both strengthen and grow our congregations, but equally we are challenged in how best to achieve this.
The new vicar should be prepared to be active and visible in the local community. This includes re-establishing links within some of our local schools, where there is, or has been in the past, a strong relationship. Our local communities have a strong family presence, with PJs parish having two primary schools, one of which is a CofE school, and St George’s parish having a primary school and a special education school, with a secondary school also at the end of the street.
Each church seeks to reach the community through a variety of events and activities, and there is a role for the new vicar to develop ideas for both the regular and one-off events that we organise, and to explore where we should target our efforts for reaching out and serving.
Since this is a new benefice and a new role, part of the initial challenge of the role will be to work with the church wardens and PCCs on how the role will work and what we can do to maximise the ministry time and effectiveness of the role, and to minimise the bureaucracy and hindrances. A further challenge will be to develop ways in which the two churches can work together and support each other.
St George’s vision statement "We seek to be a vibrant and inclusive Christian community, inspired by God, to worship and reach out, to nurture, heal and serve”
St Peter & St John’s vision statement “Our aim is to grow closer to God, to grow closer to each other, and to grow closer to the community”