I have personally enjoyed considering why and how we can enjoy and love Exeter better. I was thrilled by the Express and Echo article and am very excited to see how our Church can learn to express God's goodness across our city.
Here are five things I anticipate will happen, and am beginning to see at Grace Church:
1) Grass roots initiatives
Within our 'Community Groups' we are seeing people pray and begin to plan how to make a difference in their part of the city. A 'Neighbourhood Health Watch' is being considered in one group and we are broadly considering how we can spark more creativity.
2) Relief work and partnerships
We currently a partner with Exeter Foodbank and have began working with Christians Against Poverty in a small way. As former Chair of Trustees for Foodbank, I am looking forward to hearing news as we continue to partner through people, prayers and pounds. We are looking to invest in and grow these relationships into the future.
3) Vocational support
Many of our Church make fantastic contributions to our city and surrounding areas through their work. We have many in education, health and social care, law, as well as business leaders and others. Our aim is to motivate, support and celebrate these outstanding contributions being made. We are anticipating termly forums developing to take this further.
4) Nurturing creative expression
One of our Community Groups is based around music in our city. I am looking to meet with some musicians to consider how music and faith fuel each other, and how we might increasingly contribute to the music scene in Exeter. We are also considering how to grow in creativity within our Church meetings.
5) Influence for good
Within our city the University attracts people who are exceptionally gifted, Many Exeter graduates are in positions of significant responsibility and influence within society. We want to help support and envision those with bright futures to be working with endurance and faith for the benefit of all.
All these five areas are important. It is unlikely that the same person will begin a grass roots initiative and apply for a position of influence. However, both matter and both should be celebrated and supported. At Grace Church I am looking for people to give more space to each other and honor the different callings we each have.
As a Church we are motivated for all these things because we believe that God made and loves His world. We believe He is at work within it today, and one day he will restore it. We want our words and deeds to tell this wonderful story.
We are, and will be, minimizing and restructuring ministries, promoting spirituality, gifts and talents for all of life, redefining maturity in a broader way, creating bespoke support and learning from many others who are on a similar journey.
Through our small lives we hope we'll all increasingly hear the voice of another say, 'I love my city'.
Stuart Alred, leader of Grace Church.