Parish of Boxmoor
« Mission Action Plan »
Prior to the point at which the Covid pandemic brought us to a shuddering halt, we maintained a modest increase in numbers attending services and kept the parish finances on an even keel, maintaining levels of planned giving, despite some key donor departures (please see our parish dashboard). Our wider communications were also improved with information on parish activities appearing more in the local newspaper and free community magazine. More people of an ethnic background are also attending our services.
During the pandemic, within the bounds of the possible, we managed to keep the show on the road with the introduction of on-line services, the creation of a pastoral buddy scheme, online social events, weekly mailings, and the holding of an open air socially distanced carol service during our Christmas Tree Festival.
An increased level of Bible studies and discussion groups had been achieved, but unfortunately an enhanced Lent course fell victim to the pandemic.
In common with many parishes, the demographics of our committed, regular congregations are unbalanced, with more elderly parishioners outnumbering the young and middle aged. Despite good connections/relations made through baptisms, weddings, schools’ work, junior choir, tiny tots and Messy Church, younger people attend less frequently. We remain committed and determined to being a Church for all people (please see the second priority below).
Our fervent vision is for the Church in the Parish of Boxmoor to be vibrant and welcoming; where the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ is proclaimed and lived; where people of all ages/colours/backgrounds/sexuality are nurtured in the faith and valued; where new disciples are made and encouraged on their journeys. Worship should manifest itself through a flourishing community sharing the love, light, and life of Christ as seen in the writings of St John (our patron saint) with laughter, thus embodying all the strands of Living God’s Love.
Our principle concern is the worship of almighty God, the growth of his kingdom on earth, and the nurturing of our inclusive sacramental Christian community through loving, prayerful service and sharing.
Like most parishes, Boxmoor now faces the daunting task of clawing back the widespread losses forced on us by the unmitigated disaster of the pandemic and lockdowns. The reality is that we will be spending much of the period covered by this MAP running hard to get back to the starting line marking where we were when the crisis overtook us.
We want to get the attendance in church back up to pre-pandemic levels and revive everything that we were working on then, not least activities for children and youth, spiritual education, outreach, and choir. Furthermore, a higher level of pastoral care is now needed for more people. These demands are all the harder to achieve because the parish has recently lost an Assistant Priest and currently has no Curate, while a couple of key “do-ers” in the congregation have recently moved away rendering any succession planning for the future very difficult.
The parish finances have, of course, taken a huge hit and much effort is now required on careful management, stewardship and fundraising. The projects that we were moving towards before the pandemic, such as a church car park, need to be kept “oven ready” so we can move quickly when, in the future, finances allow.
We also hope to improve our equipment and abilities to stream services online. The know-how that we have gained can be used to continue to broadcast regular online services and can perhaps also be used to generate income from occasional offices/concerts. A new streaming policy will be required. Streaming services offers us a completely fresh outreach opportunity to connect with those who prefer to participate in services at home or from afar.
Tragically, it is far from impossible that another pandemic might come along in the future with further lockdowns and church closures. One of the few positives from the recent and current situation is that we should be able to cope again all the better, if this happens. There are many lessons that we have learned that could be applied. It is necessary therefore to put plans in place before memories fade or there are personnel changes.
To ensure that within two years the parish will have arrived back at the “new normal” with activities on a broad front in better shape than they were before the pandemic. Success or otherwise in this aspiration by mid-2023 will be self-evident.
To have an enhanced ability with new equipment to stream services online with people fully trained to operate it. This should be operational by June 2022.
To create a parish contingency plan of actions that need taking in the face of another pandemic. This to be in place, approved by the PCC, by June 2022.
The worshipping community is under-represented by children and young people despite 8 schools and numerous nurseries located within our boundary. Children and young people are not just our future but also our present. For the young people themselves, a familiarity with the Church, Jesus, and God’s love is an essential first step to belonging and believing and any future involvement. By bringing more children into the worshipping community there is also the possible benefit of bringing in their families and recruiting new talent to assist in the running of the parish. We must strive in every way possible to bring the young into our Christian community. The extreme importance of connecting with this lost generation could hardly be overstated.
Before the pandemic, the Vicar was driving forward a project to create a youth club with the assistance of the YMCA, associated with the parish. As normality returns, we very much hope to revive this project.
The creation of a church-based Youth Club, meeting regularly, with a dependable attendance of more than ten, to be operating by the end of 2022.
St John’s, Boxmoor, has had a strong musical tradition since time immemorial. Many in our congregation find choral music a catalyst to their worship of almighty God. The choir has also been a factor in bringing the parents of young choristers into church life. However, before the pandemic the choir was becoming short of numbers and in serious need of fresh blood, despite recruitment drives. To achieve good four-part harmony it has become necessary to import professional singers for our monthly Evensong, at which the choir often outnumbered the congregation.
The choir is a tremendous asset to the parish, and we see it as an important tool for mission and ministry, not least in our primary purpose to worship almighty God. Maintaining the parish’s long standing choral tradition is seen as absolutely essential.
The Director of Music should be invited to present to the PCC a strategy for the future of the choir, which would encourage recruitment, the training of existing choir members, and a plan to attract more congregation to choir-dominant services. Attention should be paid to budgetary consideration. Such a strategy to be in place and underway by June 2022.
Investment of time and energy is required to restart, regrow, and nurture our Junior Choir from whom our future main choir will hopefully be enhanced. Such investment to begin by September 2021 with a recruitment drive in our local primary schools.
Within the congregation, a spiritual yearning is tangible despite sound preaching and teaching, almost certainly due to the disruption of the pandemic both within the parish and in everyday life. To meet this, we are striving hard to achieve some sort of normal, but the conclusion is inescapable that more is needed.
We judge that this need would, at least in part, be met by holding a discipleship and enquirers course, such as (but not necessarily) Emmaus or Pilgrim but also tailor-made material for our parish on prayer. The course material could be selected to allow it to be run jointly by the Reader and Lay Leaders of Worship as well as the Vicar. This could be in conjunction with our annual Lent course.
To arrange and conduct a Discipleship course for existing members of the Church, an Enquirers course for new people and a Bible study course before June 2022.
The global climate crisis is not an issue for future generations but is our responsibility now. As stewards of God’s awesome creation we have a duty to God and one another to do all that we can to limit the devastating effects of global warming and, where possible, to reverse the trends. Locally, our efforts would dove-tail well with the Greener Dacorum tree planting campaign and the Climate & Ecological Emergency Conference being hosted by Dacorum Borough Council in November 2021.
To set a measurable target to reduce our carbon footprint by end-2022, to be achieved by end-2024, and to take part in the Eco-Church initiative, in which the Diocese has registered, where our dependence on carbon, single use plastics, etc. is explored. Our participation would also assist the Diocese to qualify as a Gold Eco Diocese by 2024.