The weather remained fine on Sunday June 17th for the afternoon launch of the Mission Community (Appleby Section).
As people gathered at Appleby Methodist Church (The Sands) for the first part of the event, it was good that several leaders of the various denominations were present who also took part at various stages during the afternoon. These included: Rev’d Stephen Radford, Methodist Superintendent; Rev’d Stewart Fyfe
Rural Dean; The Venerable Lee Townend, Archdeacon of Carlisle; Jennet McLeod (acting Chair of the Cumbria District); Father Peter Houghton from Our Lady, Appleby; Bishop James Bell on behalf of the Church of England;
and Donald Marston from the Baptist Church as well as Salvation Army representatives.
One of the tasks that the congregation needed to decide on was a name for the newly formed Mission Community so voting slips were provided with a choice of three names for people to choose from.
After a brief welcome from Rev. Stephen Radford, and an introduction from Rev. Stewart Fyfe, the opening verse of the first hymn written by Stuart Townend encapsulated what the Mission Community is all about: Oh how good it is when the family of God dwells together in spirit, in faith and unity. Where the bonds of peace, of acceptance and love are the fruit of his presence here among us.
A bible reading focusing on different parts of the body working together was given by Sue Wigley, Appleby Deanery Lay Chair after which various church leaders spoke words of encouragement supporting the Mission Community ethos.
The entire congregation then made a short walk from The Sands to St Lawrence’s to continue the event, singing a hymn at the Cloisters before entering the church when organist Geoff Gordon provided a musical welcome and Rev. John Morton delivered a verbal one.
The musical theme continued in the singing of a hymn by Ally Barrett – a verse of which reads: Lord, affirm our shared vocation: may we bring your plans to birth, build a church on Christ’s foundation, fit to tend a troubled earth. Growing, praying, sharing, learning, deep in wisdom, broad in scope, love-revealing, truth-discerning, living out the gospel hope.
An offering was taken up for the work of the Mission Community, further words of encouragement followed, and a Covenant Prayer was jointly led by the Venerable Lee Townend and Rev. Jennet McLeod.
A further short walk was then taken as the congregation made their way to The Hub for the final part of the launch – singing ‘One more Step along the world I go’ as they did so.
There was a welcoming atmosphere at The Hub as refreshments were on offer. But before people could enjoy those the results of the vote were announced as to the name of the Mission Community – the firm winner being The Heart ofWestmoreland Mission Community.
A final important act was carried out at the Hub – the Commissioning of the Mission Community Office Manager Joyce Keetley who has been an instrumental figure in organising and orchestrating the event.
It is customary to end such a piece as this by saying a good time was had by all – but in this case I think it may be more accurate to state that a God time was experienced by all!