The William Black Pastoral Charge of The United Church of Canada sits magnificently on Granville Street in Bridgetown. Now, after much deliberation, the members have made the decision to list the church building for sale. They intend to continue to provide an open-minded and open-hearted United Church presence in the community but they have concluded that they have “outgrown” the church building and that they no longer need the building in order to carry out their mission and ministry. By having “outgrown” the building they are saying that they are no longer allowing dwindling numbers and finances to define the spirit and direction of the church.
Members of the congregation feel that their future is actually very exciting. For some time now they have been looking into new and innovative ways of continuing to be a steadfast and solid rock in these times of change. Under the leadership of the church council and their minister, the Reverend Janis Campbell, they are hosting a “Learning Circle” that is exploring co-operative parish ministry. Co-operative ministry emphasizes common objectives, and draws on the strengths of otherwise isolated congregations to build networks. Co-operation can happen either within one denomination or between denominations: all United Church congregations in an area could co-operate, for instance; or all the churches in a geographical area could co-operate, regardless of denomination. It is a way-of-being church that has been employed to good advantage for many years, in parts of Canada and across the U.S.
This is all very scary and exciting at the same time. It is an exciting time to be William Black and despite obstacles and difficulties that are inherent in any change, the members of the congregation are confident that they can forge a new way to carry out God’s mission. As William Black does this, they are vibrant, very alive and moving confidently into a new future, trusting in the Spirit. Retired? Gone? Passed away? Quite the contrary! The congregation has never been more alive and kicking; full of the Spirit.
--Submitted by Tony Orlando