Getting to know one another

I’ve been in post here now for about 6 weeks and it has all been about getting to know one another. Names are a problem. Always have been. I remember faces but names are as File 16-07-2016, 14 53 29elusive as the petals of the fuschia pink poppy which appeared in my garden last week. But people are very nice and can usually tell by the pained expression on my face that I’ve forgotten their name. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of a certain Provost’s book and make badges for everyone to wear. Not snappy witty sayings badges but just ‘My name is …’

This week we had a Getting to Know You evening and produced a time-line of St Fillan’s with all the past rectors’ names on it along with their dates of office. Then we filled in all our names and when we came. It was such a good night and I loved hearing all the stories and got to know everyone a little bit better. This also gave the opportunity for my little flock to tell me why they’d come to St F’s and the stories began to echo over and over again.

‘We moved here with young children and looked for a church where they’d be welcome. St F’s was that place.’

‘We tried another church but it wasn’t child friendly so when we heard about St F’s we came here and it was great.’

‘I didn’t know about St F’s because its not on a main road but someone recommended it for its friendliness and I’ve never gone anywhere else.’

‘We moved here and it was our local church and at the end of our first service I was on the coffee rota and that was that.’

‘The people are so friendly, it is small and has a real family feel about it.’

Sadly those children have all grown up, many with families of their own now. But the loyal folk have stayed and know and love one another like a family. They look out for one another, they know each other’s stories, and they care. And that is why I love small congregations. Of course I’m sure large congregations do care for one another but there isn’t that same level of intimacy that you get in a small church where you know everyone. Everyone. And everyone hopes that one day St F’s will echo with the sounds of children once more. And we have one! A child was born on St Fillan’s Day on 20 June but I can sense that the hope is for more than just the one. Well who knows?

20160625_102343But it got me thinking… what if we didn’t worry about getting more children in? What if we accepted that we are a small, loving, elderly congregation who love and care for one another? Because it was the caring and the friendliness which made people stay in St F’s after their first visit. And that is just as attractive to many as a church full of lively toddlers. So I think we need to give thanks for our wrinkles and our zimmers and our creaking arthritis and rejoice that there are still some who can go skiing and ramble and do the rector’s garden. All are welcome in this place.

One of the joys here is a little group of women who go for Sunday lunch together. They each live alone and have nobody to go home and enjoy lunch with so they get together and go to the restaurant up the road where they are welcomed and known. I’ve joined this group and we have enjoyed sharing our stories.  It is wonderful ministry and I’ve got my eye on an old man who dines at the same time but sits on his own…

Of course amidst all the unpacking and settling my thoughts often stray back to another little flock in Falkirk. Birthdays and Year’s Minds in my diary pop up to remind me of those I still care for. It is so hard to walk away and not be part of the rest of their stories. I worry about M just out of hospital and is she doing too much? I think of J getting over treatment, of L getting used to living alone, of C worried about her sister stuck in an airport in Istanbul. Yes, Facebook keeps me up to date with some of them but not all. And I add them to my list of prayers and hope that our paths cross from time to time.

So my new little flock and I get to know one another better. We get used to those little ways of doing things. I’m told they are looking forward to change and so far, so good. There is lots of laughter around the place and that feels good. There is kindness and generosity and good works going on too. And I look out of my study window and see J sitting on her wee stool weeding my front garden and I give thanks. It feels like a good place to be.

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9 thoughts on “Getting to know one another

  1. A lovely picture of how a church grows and how people in the church grow in faith. You have warmed my cockles on a dreich day, Ruth. Thank you and Every Blessing from Dalamory

  2. Your little church sounds lovely, a family of believers in close relationship. The church I attend is like that. There is lots of caring, sharing, hugging and love amongst the fold. This is always a true blessing. We have wee ones too, which enliven most Children’s story times and other times as well. One Sunday the pastor’s 5 year old wanted to open the service with her prayer, as she stood by the pulpit ‘helping him’,

    • Bonnie, my dream is for some wee ones but if folk wouldn’t worry about it quite so much I think it would be healthier! But I do miss the comments from the children at my last church. They always lifted our spirits.

  3. What a lovely description. I have five churches and some of mine are very like St Fillan’s but others need some help to become like that 🙂

  4. Well Ruth, I really feel for you i this. My problem recent years have been that I forget the names of those I’ve known for years… I am glad that you have reached that very healthy thought that a congregation is the loving, caring, engaged, praying and laughing lot that likes to spend their time within the church, in Gods presence . Age or anything else is absolutely unimportant, in Sweden we have the constant worry about decreasing congregations. We search for appealing approaches to tempt the younger and the middleaged actives to come to church. Sometimes we almost forget that little faithful lot residing underneath the vaults. I too carry people from past with me but have a tendency of quickly get close to new people and like them. I said this before, I am glad you have settled down and found a space for both your ministry in serving, and a space for yourself. Keep writing these inspiring posts!!!

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