The Parish Church of

Saint Mary the Virgin

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Barton-on-Humber

 

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St. Peter's Day, 29th June, 1971

One thing the Church cannot afford to do that is to sit and wait for things to come right of their own accord. There's a great deal of truth in the old saying, "God helps those who help themselves." If the Apostles whom Peter led had sat around waiting for the Spirit to bring in the Kingdom of God for them, they would have done nothing and the Christian faith and the Church would have disappeared. Christ's command was to go out and make all nations my disciples.
What was true for the Apostles is still true for us. If the Church here and now just waits for things to happen, nothing will. Nor is it any use our bemoaning that things are not what they were, they never can be. The past is the past and there is no use regretting the fact. We are here to use this present time with all its opportunities as the medium in which we have to work to bring the Kingdom of God nearer. We have to think and act positively about what the challenge for us is now.
As it is St. Peter's Day today, we have been using Old St. Peter's Church for two celebrations of Holy Communion. Here is a real challenge staring us in the face. 'What are we to make of St. Peter's ?' We can, if we choose, spend our time bewailing the past glory of this fine Church, being sad at its present condition, making ourselves miserable because we know that those days will never return.
We don't have to look at it this way. Once we have accepted the situation for what it is and become determined to see the opporunities which lie ahead for St. Peter's, and be resolved to press forward in that direction, then new vistas begin to open themselves up in front of us. We know that we cannot afford to restore and use the whole of St. Peter's. If we could afford it, it would still be a misuse of our resources, for we all know that the beautiful St. Mary's Church is perfectly adequate for the Church in Barton, both now and in the future. On the other hand we also know that Old St. Peter's is really the tangible

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foundation on which the Church in this part of Lincolnshire is built. We feel that it is not enough that Old St. Peter's should pass into the hands of a committee or fund whose only purpose would be to preserve it as a museum piece. How then can we use Old St. Peter's positively as a real part of the mission of the Church here, now and in the future ? It's not absolutley clear how this can be achieved yet, but plans are beginning to form and the Church Council is working hard to this end.
Just as St. Peter's Day must remind us of the building dedicated to him, it also has to remind us that the rock upon which Christ said he would build his Church was a person, and the Church itself is a body of people. Our first concern is with people, whom it is the Christian duty of the Church here to serve as best we can.
[Darrel Speedy]

 

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