Update

4

2016-02-15 by George Kaplan

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).

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Update

  1. deannadouglas says:

    Thanks Sean. This is a hard decision, and one that has a lot to do with a lot of us having to leave the community for geographically (rather than preference)-based reasons. I wish I could be there to contribute towards the headcount or at least come to one of the pending services. I will be thinking of you all!

  2. Dear Mr Gardiner,
    I hadn’t realised that a Mennonite Church was so near. I have been connected with the Strict Baptists for many years but interested in the Anabaptists and what they stand for. Having just been to a lecture on English Dissent at Dr Williams’s Library I thought I would check the Internet and found you. Than – later in the evening saw the Guardian article. How strange. I attend a Baptist Church in Richmond but would very much like to be with you this Sunday for what must be a rather sad day for you. I have a Canadian friend who sends me things from time to time about Mennonite events in the arts.
    Peter S Smith
    Incidently your logo drawing with the transformation of cross to dove is excellent

  3. Mary Paulin says:

    I sent a copy of the Guardian article to my daughter, who is a member of The Meeting House here in Oakville, Ontario. It belongs to the Brethren in Christ and is in the Anabaptist tradition. She suggested this:
    “If I could post a comment, I would suggest they try to form a MeetingHouse Distance Group/
    https://www.facebook.com/tmhdistancegroups/

    You can find out more about the Meeting House here: https://www.themeetinghouse.com/
    And Brethren in Christ (Canada) here: http://www.canadianbic.ca/
    Brethren in Christ has a UK website but it does not appear to have been updated in some time: http://www.biccuk.com/
    And there is always the US BIC: http://www.bic-church.org/

  4. sonofspeke says:

    Despite being a Roman Catholic I have always held the Mennonite tradition in great honour and I was saddened to hear that you have closed your centre. I recall with gratitude buying books by John H Yoder there in the 1980s. I would be very glad to hear of your activities. I live on the other side of London – Richmond – but would appreciate being kept in touch.
    With best wishes
    Frank Roberts

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