What is PMC?
Invited by the Bishop
Excitingly, in 2015 the three churches of the Parish were invited by the Bishop of Reading to be part of a pilot programme in the Archdeaconry called Partnership for Missional Church (PMC). After a couple of preliminary meetings, a presentation and a lot of questions, the Councils of St Paul’s with St Nicholas and of Woosehill Church separately decided to be part of PMC, a process which usually lasts for about three years.
The core of PMC is a belief that God longs for the Church to flourish and that He has a plan for the future of our churches, and that our job is to listen more carefully – to Him, to each other and to the wider community – and then to strive to follow the path He is shaping for us. That we have been asked to be part of this pilot is a sign of our health – we are doing fine but there is scope to do better and more and PMC is a way of doing that, by making us reflect on our own faith and on who we are as churches and building everything else on what we find in that exchange. It is a very exciting process and what is at stake is nothing less than becoming the passionate, prayerful, active, humble and generous Church God is calling us to become.
PMC is a journey, an adventure on which we are all being invited to go together. Confident of God’s love and faithfulness and Spirit, confident of one another, confident in the resources we have between us, it is a journey we can take with assurance and joyfulness and certain hope.
How is it working in our Parish?
The first meeting of the Steering Groups and Listening Leaders of the different parishes taking part in the pilot (some of those “partners” of the PMC Partnership) took place in September 2015. These “cluster” meetings take place in September or October, February and June of the academic year. In between, the Steering Groups for the three Churches meet regularly; sometimes we come together as one group and occasionally meet up with members of our local partners, All Saints Wokingham and All Saints Boyne Hill (Maidenhead).
In October and November 2015 the teams of Listening Leaders undertook a process of Congregational Discovery or, more simply, listened to an anonymous but representative sample of the congregations to discover something of their experience of our churches through a standardised set of questions. The responses to the interviews were analysed by an “external” team of readers and the resultant reports prayerfully discussed by the Steering Teams.
In January 2016 “Time Line events” took place at which the whole congregation was invited to contribute memories of and hopes for their particular church in order to build up a picture of our history, celebrating what has been good, being honest about what has not and recognising what is important to us. Why? To discern God’s vision for our future we needed to discover where we are now.
Over the year many pages of data relating to the parish (both as part of the Diocese of Oxford and of the town of Wokingham) have been entered into a profile document which also helps clarify the picture of where we are now as separate churches and as a parish.
Information on all these findings has been summarised and distributed to the congregations. Copies of these summaries can be found in PDF format in the folders below.
Please pray regularly for our Spiritual Leaders, for the PMC Steering Team and for the health and future of the parish, of our three churches, and of the communities we are sent and led to serve. If you have any questions at all about PMC, then please speak to Fr Richard or to Mary Cassidy or Liz Gallagher.
Key Spritual Practices
Dwelling in the Word is built on two key ideas: that everyone has a relationship with God, and that everyone has something to contribute to the life of the Church.
In PMC we use the same Bible reading for a year. We pay close attention to the reading every time we use it. We share with someone else what has struck us about the reading at that moment, and listen them into free speech as they share their response. If the size of the group allows we feed back what the other person noticed.
In Year 1, we focused on Luke 10. 1-12, a story of being sent out, dependent on the hospitality of the receivers, a reading which emphasises the fact that we are joining in with the work God is already doing, and that our role is simply to bear witness to God and leave the rest to God.
Our reading for the second year, from the second letter to the Corinthians, is given in the Dwelling in the Word document below.
Listening to God Together (in PMC jargon “Corporate Spiritual Discernment”) is one of the key spiritual practices for PMC. We do it because we believe
- God is alive and active in the world
- Knowing Scripture gives us a way to identify God in action now
- The guidance the Holy Spirit gives us now will not contradict what we know about Jesus through Scripture
- God is in mission in the world and He calls and sends the church to participate in that mission
- Knowing and doing are interrelated
- Putting ourselves and the future of the church completely into the hands of God brings freedom, creativity and adventure.
Deep listening is the key activity in discernment and we need to listen to both the insiders and the outsiders of the congregation in order to discover what God is up to and how the Holy Spirit is at work. Corporate spiritual discernment is seeking wisdom about God and God’s kingdom in fellowship with one another, depending on the Holy Spirit and with the desire to follow and glorify our Lord in mission.
A copy of a report on the first “Listening to God Together” event held at St Paul’s in May 2016 can be viewed in the St Paul’s documents folder below.
More news of PMC
Still feeling confused? Left out? Read on!
For a different “voice” about Partnership for Missional Church you might like to have a look at Woosehill Church’s PMC blog which includes some interesting links to video and audio material. Well worth a few minutes of your time!
To find out more, click here –> PMC at Woosehill blog