Annesley United Church Vision Sunday Report
The pivotal question posed on Visioning Sunday (22 November 2015) was "Where do you want Annesley to be in 20 years?". The very engaged and thoughtful participants contributed many constructive answers. They varied somewhat, but all answers indicated that we want the church to be here, relevant, and alive. How do we make sure that happens?
Five reoccuring themes were found in the congregational visioning responses:
* We want a church that is open, welcoming, inclusive, and accepting.
Many people said they wanted a church that was inclusive of all people, and welcomed a variety of theological thought. The church should be open to other faiths: Christian and others. It should be welcoming and relevant to newcomers, youth, and families. We should take church outside the building, and make it visible to the community through local advertising, social media. We need to be willing to change and to move out of our comfort zones.
* Our building needs to be maintained and used to its full capacity both by our congregation and the wider community. This will in all likelihood involve changes and improvements to our present building.
Many people hoped that unused church facilities, in particular the largely unused basement, would be open for other groups to use to find a home. It was often mentioned that all parts of the building could become gathering spots for any number of community events, such as concerts, and as a spot for other faiths to worship. It could become a venue for plays, musicals, and comedies. It could become a mosque or a synagogue on Saturdays.
*We especially want to support and care for all age groups, especially youth.
It seemed obvious to all that the future of Annesley begins now by making sure the next generation - now sadly underrepresented - find a home where they feel comfortable, and where their needs and wishes are met. This can and must be accomplished by considering them while still speaking to those who understand the history of the church. Perhaps a youth minister should be considered. There should be ample outreach to the senior community, with a view to enriching their lives as well.
* Our worship services, including the music, need to evolve to suit our community.
Our worship traditions are rooted firmly in the history of Christian protestantism. While these have value to those of us who understand and accept those traditions, they often don't speak clearly to the 'unchurched', and are not neccessarily immediately relevant even to the rest of us. Worship practises must change to reflect the needs and sensibilities of a new generation of the Annesley family. There should be a variety in worship, and we should continually ask people what they want and expect. Different religious understandings could be experienced in worship to foster a better understanding of the world. The music should become modern, approachable, and relevant.
* We want to work with other faith communities.
It is quite likely that the cost of maintaining church facilities will become an increasing burden for other faith communities just as it is for us. We should build a house where other faiths feel welcome, and encourage them to join us. This must be done while seeing these other faith communities as co-equals. Understanding other faiths will foster a better understanding of the world.
The Committee wishes to express our deep appreciation to the Congregation of November 22nd for being such good sports, when the worship service took on an unexpected format and with enthusiasm and good humour prayerfully opened themselves up to envision a future for Annesley.