2016-02-15 by Jeremy Clarke
From Sean Gardiner, elder.
Dear friends of WGMC,
Following the closure of the London Mennonite Centre in 2011 – its premises WGMC’s historic birthplace and a useful home base, its changing staff a constant source of church attendees – and the loss of many members, including some untimely deaths, our numbers are now so small as to render church structures and activities unsustainable. Thanks to the generosity of past and present members, this issue is not financial but rather one of numbers.
As numbers have fallen, the church has experienced difficulty filling the positions of elders. Towards the end of his tenure in 2015, Ed Sirett stayed on a few extra months to help us consider the church’s future. As the remaining elder I cannot continue indefinitely in this role.
New ideas to boost attendance – a monthly, alternative outdoors Walking Church worship service, a Central London-based Radical Routes study group – have attracted only a few visitors. Sunday worship has been simplified to communion twice and a ‘bring and share’ afternoon meal once a month.
Following a dedicated day in mid-November 2015 to consider the church’s future, members agreed we could no longer sustain our usual pattern of community life, despite a perceived obligation to maintain the UK’s only fully functioning, English-speaking, Mennonite church. It was decided to end our existing pattern of church life on Sunday 20 March 2016 (see below).
We are now exploring the possibility of establishing a virtual community after Easter 2016 with a pattern of shared devotional life and occasional meetings. Among details to be agreed: who the community will comprise, how it will be resourced/moderated and what it will be called. The core convictions are likely to be adapted from the church covenant.
As a registered charity, we will need to make decisions about staff we employ. Decisions about church assets including property to be considered in due course by the trustees are contingent upon how the virtual community develops in the next year or so.
We ask for your prayers as we work through this process. We will keep you informed of developments.
Yours in peace,
Sean Gardiner (Elder).