Engaged? Or Vacant?
Perhaps you remember when the bolts on public toilet doors indicated whether they were “engaged” or “vacant”. It was only when I tried to take photos of such doors that I realised they are not so common as they used to be (believe me, I was very discreet, not wanting to attract strange looks!).
We discovered recently that one of the minimum standards for a "well equipped space in the right place" (ref. the General Trustees) is that toilet facilities should be modern and take into account the numbers of people using the building.
(Both churches have completed the online survey.)
These days the colours red and white, respectively, are often used instead of words.
In the Church, many people do not like the term “vacant” for a congregation without a minister, for the obvious reason that, just because there is no member of the clergy in post, it doesn’t mean to say nothing is happening.
Here in Meadowside St Paul’s and St Andrew’s, plenty is happening, both individually in each of the congregations and, increasingly, together as partners in linkage.
Last week (21st October) we began the second series of We are the Church (see “Out”, my post on 13th February). Some of the same people came along and some new people came too: a good mix from both congregations. Last Monday we engaged in some bible study and yesterday our focus was on discipleship (in accordance with one of the 2019 Remits from the General Assembly).
What stood out for me is that we have reached a point at which those present felt able to be very honest about themselves, their faith, their life. There was attentive listening and encouragement and support.
That is a truly precious and exciting thing!
I don’t have a photo – a camera would have been an intrusion at such an intimate moment – but take it from me, the folk here aren’t vacant, they are ENGAGED.
Is it no accident that red is a vibrant colour? A colour associated with the fire of Pentecost and the presence of the Holy Spirit?
Engaged - yes. But still with plenty of room (including a manse which surpasses the General Trustees' minimum standard) for a minister, and, are following the example of the disciple Andrew who was one of those who “joined constantly in prayer” following Jesus’ Ascension.
Is it you we are praying for?