Our vision is not in the first instance for what our church should look like, rather our vision is for what Collier Row could become. We think that Collier Row is a great place and also see how much potential there is here and in the surrounding area:
I got up this morning to take our dog for a walk in the King George playing fields. Along the way I see no litter scattered along the pavements or festering in the bushes. The River Rom is running freely, without cast off old chairs stemming the flow and with no 'Red Bull' cans floating helplessly without destination. The kids' and teenagers' areas are broken-bottle free; nobody needs to comment about the drug dealing these days. A group of people are preparing to play football. Among them I see people from different ethnic groups, taxi drivers, plumbers, teachers, IT engineers, pensioners, politicians and children all warming up for the game.
On the way home I pass the bus stop outside Prospect Place, where school children, commuters and elderly folk are chatting safely together. The bus driver draws up and knows each person by name as they get on. Collier Row Lane is bump-less and bright, the buildings all well maintained and front doors unlocked. Cars pass courteously by at a responsible speed and with minimal exhaust fumes.
Later in the day I went to the Collier Row Road shops, all of which are thriving and trading well. Teenagers are carrying the shopping for old ladies; children are seen safely across the road by passing adults. Shoppers seem to have more time, asking after one another's families and caring deeply beyond the hurried “How are you"s and "I'm fine"s. Nobody is complaining in the Post Office queue and the cost of a stamp hasn't risen for five years. Mums and dads push cherished babies along in their buggies, with not an angry word passing between any of them. Neighbours offer help to one another with no obligation and invite one another into their homes.
That day I saw a Collier Row, where there was no more sorrow of family breakdown, no more domestic violence or drunkenness; no more verbal abuse, threats, discrimination or bullying; no more failed education, debt, unemployment or tedious work; no more or fears, depression, swine flu or cancer. No more.......add your own! Dividing walls were gone, families and neighbours restored, community vibrant and purposeful. I saw a Collier Row, where all tears were wiped away...........
Maybe, just maybe, such a vision could become a reality not just in Collier Row, but throughout London and the UK, even to the very ends of the earth. We long to be a church, together with other churches in our area, which is a part of making the vision a reality. We desire to be a church, which discerns what our loving Father God is doing in His world, and which has the flexibility and boldness to join in with Him. We desire to be a people, who have Jesus at the centre of all that we do, and who genuinely and sacrificially love our neighbours and serve them, working together, so that tomorrow can be different for us all. We want to worship in Spirit and in Truth, living transparent and open lives, which reflect the beauty of God. We love so much to give the reason for the hope that we have because of Jesus, always learning more and desiring ever more to be like Him. We aim to honour God and one another in all that we think, say and do; to be a generous and hospitable people, who seek to implement all things with quality. We strive for balance as we relate to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and so to live balanced lives of worship, prayer, family time, work, recreation and service to our neighbourhood, as well as the needs of our city, nation and the wider world.
We hope that we are a realistic people, with a balanced view of our gifts and limitations, who depend on the Grace of God, and who draw upon His big love to help our little love to work better. When things go wrong, which they will from time to time, we hope to be a people who seek the forgiveness of God in Christ and who forgive one another, picking one another up, dusting ourselves down and getting on with the job. This is our vision at The Church of The Good Shepherd. Come Holy Spirit! Amen, come Lord Jesus!
Rev David Hague