The Parish System is at the core of the Church of England, a parish is defined as “a small administrative district typically having its own church and a priest or pastor.” Further to this, the Priest assigned has pastoral duties to the parish. Often the Parish is described as the “heart of the community”, if this is the case then it is important to make ourselves visible to all who live and work in our Parish. One of the benefits of being in a Parish, is the architectural visibility of the Church, it is quite literally in the “heart of the community,” representing God’s presence on a local level, therefore it is crucial for our Parish to engage in effective mission and pastoral care that engages with the needs of our contemporary culture and our own context.
It has been said that a Parish Church should be a “public place that is inclusive”, luckily at St Chrysostom’s we are that. But, it should be emphasised that the parish church should respond to the needs of the whole community and the needs of humanity, regardless of any religious belief. St Chrysostom’s is situated in a multicultural parish, so in our context we as a church must work especially for interfaith relations and building strong and healthy community links with others from varying cultural and faith backgrounds.
Furthermore, if we want to be radically inclusive and really embrace the message of Galatians 3:28 – There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus – in our Parish, we must welcome all into our Church and respond to each individual’s spiritual needs. To me, this can be done a missional level, such as involving the church in local causes, but also can be done through the inclusive nature of the sacraments. One of the responsibilities a Parish Priest has is to perform the sacraments to those in their parochial bounds, to me both Baptism and the Eucharist especially are symbolic of the radical inclusion and community life, that is represented in Parish life. Not only do the Sacraments bring us as believers closer to God, but they represent us as a Church at the very heart of the community opening our arms to all, welcoming all to come closer to Christ and to eat at his table.
Hannah (Parish Assistant)