Last week I blogged a vision for two rural Methodist Chapels, I presented the vision to both; one was received with joy because actually they had gone there before me and simply needed permission to proceed while the other one responded with a mixed reaction but a cautious decision to create a steering group to look at the possibilities. I am also encouraged by the decision of some folk in the larger Chapel to help and support folk from the smaller Chapel when it comes to practicalities such as obtaining permissions from Manchester ( the home of Methodist Administration).
The two reactions were interesting because the smaller Chapel had the bigger vision presented to it, to become an Arts Centre it will need to get rid of its pews, this didn't even raise an eyebrow, in fact they talked about moving the organ and creating a much more user friendly space! How odd that I found myself wanting to preserve a subtle hints of its past such as retaining the back pews and using the pulpit to create a screen when many of the members were ready to ditch the lot! Our next step will be to bring in an expert from the District to help us find a way forward.
The larger Chapel looks to be in a much more healthy state than the smaller one, but looks can be deceptive, in the few months that I have been here I have been responsible for leading funerals for 6 members ( that is 6% of the total membership); add to that the fact that membership figures have only been maintained because three other Chapels have closed and people have transferred their membership and the picture suddenly looks much bleaker!
I was reflecting on all of this as I watched Disney and Pixar's UP, and it struck me that the two Chapels are at very different stages on their journey. The larger Chapel is still at home, and although when folk look out of the window they can see that the landscape has changed, they aren't sure quite what to do about it!
Just as Carl was fiercely protective of his home so they are protective not so much of their building ( for interestingly that is new), but more of something to do with identity and place in the community. I think they see the need to attach those balloons and fly away, but when they do fly, like Carl they are going to want to take everything with them!
The smaller Chapel on the other hand has reached the waterfall, and encountered several dangers on the way, they have had to ditch the furniture and are ready for another adventure. In the film Ellie, Carl's wife gives him permission to go have an other adventure ( go read the plot if you need to), and although in many ways it was a wrench for him to do so he went, not simply in order to survive, but out of a love for his strange new traveling companions and a rekindled desire for adventure!
I'll end my mad musings here with a thought that perhaps the way forward for us as a Church is to rekindle the our desire for adventure, after all that is what pilgrimage is and where we should be headed as disciples; then we should look to see who our strange traveling companions might be!!!