Having identified a potential cluster with Murrayfield, Palmerston Place, Stockbridge and SSCB, we spent time assessing our links, strengths and clear differences. We found we could work together and want to do so. What could it look like? What can we continue to do well, or even better together, where can we collaborate and what should we lay down?
We have a group of four churches that feel connected and led to explore what that might look like in practice. We seek clarity on the plans that God has for us. Nothing has been decided or committed to, and we are simply throwing around some ideas, mixing them up with prayer and trusting to the Holy Spirit to provide the vital yeast. If it continues to look good, then we might pop it in the oven and see what starts to rise!
We know, from the shared Holy Week services, that we can collaborate using technology. We want to engage with each other and reach out to others. Perhaps we can share IT (experience and equipment), with further expertise from Presbytery, to run a Cluster team hosting Zoom events such as worship, fellowship and prayer meetings?
Perhaps we can collaborate with Youth and Outreach. Cluster-wide paid leaders can combine with volunteers who are called to serve in their own congregations?
What about ministers themselves? In the future, if the number of available ministerial posts were to reduce, perhaps we could combine fewer ministers covering the four congregations alongside enhanced IT facilities and volunteers who are prepared to preach and be involved in other ministry activities?
We aim to retain and enhance our existing relationships – for example ‘Comely Bank Churches Together’ and our links with La Jolla Christian Fellowship in San Diego.
For many of us, a focal point is gathering together in fellowship and worship, but for some of us, we may have found that Zoom services keep us fed spiritually, allowing us to seek Christian fellowship in other ways. Maybe the churches will be refuelling stations, enabling us to go out into our community throughout the week (wherever that community is and whatever it may look like)? Even after pandemic restrictions end, there will be elements of how we have survived that we can use to help us thrive.
If so, then maybe a Cluster with its pooled resources can enhance us? It’s all up for discussion and prayer.
What we do know is that we want to build from our existing strengths, not lose them. We want to praise God and bring the message to others, identifying where we can do that better together. Our Cluster footprint is a city bridge. It can be enhanced and made stronger, but if any church is removed then we would be facing a large gap. Our separate identities and environments are reasons not just for continued existence, but for continued growth. And growing as a strong Cluster, allows for mutual support.
As we collaborate, we must honour and praise God. We have made a start, we like what we see, and we know there is so much potential. We pray that all that we do together as a Cluster and as individual churches will please and glorify God. So how should we do it?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ [Matthew 22:37-39]
[from Timothy Pitt, Session Clerk]