Lancaster Castle has been suggested as a possible location for Parliament should MPs opt to move out of the Palace of Westminster during much needed renovation. The suggestion has been both welcomed and ridiculed but the warning that those in the bubble of the Westminster village ignore the rest of the country at their peril is real enough. It may not be any more practical to move the Assembly Office away from London than to move Parliament to Lancaster but we do need to be reminded that we are not only a church in three nations but 13 Synods and nearly 1500 congregations. Each one of those congregations important and vital to our shared life. To elevate one part above another would be to ignore the story of faith that is lived out by committed disciples across the United Reformed Church.
Trinity Lancaster has responded to the changing needs of being church in a rapidly changing world by structuring itself as one church on two sites. The city centre High Street congregation tracing its history back to 1773 and the former mission station at Bowerham to 1904. The Elders share responsibility along with the minister for the two congregations, allowing some resources to be diverted from administration to pastoral care and leadership.
In a culture dominated by the collapse of institutional structures it is critical that the church learns to do things differently. The time when culture would allow itself to be shaped by church has past. One small reminder being the need for the congregate at High Street to be out by 12.30 to avoid having their cars clamped!
It was a joy to worship with these warm and welcoming congregations who retain an enthusiasm for the task of mission both in Lancaster and with their partner congregation in Velore.