It was two-and-a-bit years ago that the PCC of Swanvale Halt took an Away Day to consider the Mission Plan (we're not supposed to call them that now, apparently - they are Church Development Plans, not that it matters what you call them). Over that time my thinking about how to engage in this process has shifted, but it's still vital to bring the lay leadership of the church into the business of deciding its priorities, or it just won't work at all. We'd booked Peper Harow church, which is not far away from Swanvale Halt: a medieval church, decorated by the great Pugin, which dramatically caught fire on Christmas Eve 2007 and which underwent an incredibly expensive reconstruction resulting in an absolutely gorgeous fabric, like a medieval church but spanking new with pristine tiling and ceiling paintings. Half the pompous post-Reformation monuments were unsalvable, leaving only the odd bust and cherub, and a church which is strikingly clear of clutter. As the church is only occasionally used for services, it was always intended that it should be a 'diocesan resource' available for just such things as PCC Away Days.
One of the delights of Peper Harow's restoration, as well as its loo and kitchenette, is underfloor heating. I have felt this working, but it hasn't worked as reliably as one might hope. It wasn't working this Saturday; the churchwarden had helpfully put in heaters on Friday afternoon, but as I set out from my house the car thermometer dropped from 1 degree to freezing to minus-1. Oh dear.
In fact the chill outside made the environment within the building seem all the more palatable, and it's a beautiful setting, amid the Surrey fields. As the sun got going and the time came to 'break into small groups' various Swanvale Halt members decided they were more comfortable out in the churchyard in the increasingly warm late-winter sunshine than in the church itself.
Everyone expressed a great deal of satisfaction with the day. It was good that Rev Facilitator was able to be with us again as he was in 2015, guiding us with gentle encouragement (shame he's retiring). He thinks we've come quite a long way and seem more energised and forward-looking than in the past. I now have a sheaf of papers to batter into some kind of report so that we can take it forward. A job for tomorrow ...