Happy new year everyone.
Had a great break in Devon - stormy, windy, hail(!) but great company and it was good to be away from the desk and computer.
The pre-Christmas conversations about membership and community have resumed. We are planning to have a series of gatherings to talk about the issue between now and Easter, giving members and friends of the church the chance to express their views and share their insights.
I've been interested to read on Stuart Blythe's blog some thoughts about baptism as this is surfacing as a key issue to consider as we think about membership. Some reckon that baptism is a non-negotiable - by which they mean the immersion of believers - while others think we need to treat other traditions seriously.
I must confess that I am increasingly undecided on tbe issue. I used to be strongly of the view that immersion was essential and baptism was the door through which everyone had to go in order to be a full member of the church.
Questions include - what does the New Testament mean by baptism? what was the practice of the early church? what did our baptist forbears do? what does baptism as a ritual mean to people in today's world? I'm not sure what the answers are to any of these questions - but intend to think about it over the next few weeks.
This Sunday we're having our first lunch time church family meeting at which non-members will be welcome. We're having a conversation over the lunch tables about what belonging means to us which will include the children as well as their parents. I'm looking forward to it.