A Story from Canada
In the early part of 2017 our Parish decided to use JSP as a starting point for building upon our outreach work into the community. We had been looking at JSP for some time, and discussing it with Gordon.
Fall River is a small town on the periphery of Halifax Regional Municipality, the largest city east of Montreal.
We have two churches, St Thomas’ and St Margaret of Scotland, situated about 12km apart. One is the merger of two older churches and St Margaret’s is 160 years old (ancient for Canada!)
JSP was received with enthusiasm by both Councils, and by our active Bible Study Groups. Once it was introduced to the congregations it was clear that this was going to be the stimulus we needed.
We quickly formed our home groups, which were 5 in number, including a Church based groups held at a normal Bible Study time. A total of 45 people attended one or other of these groups.
The starting points for each week followed the program very much as designed, using sermon suggestions and music suggestions and the children’s’ program.
The home groups were great—very stimulating, including a fine range of rabbit holes for us to explore, but always with an eye on the main message! In true Maritime Canadian fashion, food played a key role, and the mix of social time, study and prayer proved most exhilarating. We were saddened when the program came to an end, and determined that we would use Cross Shaped Jesus, upon which we are presently engaged.
What did we gain/learn from this exercise?
We learned, through prayer and talk, where our strengths as a parish lay. We were able to identify what we think that we do well, what we know that we don’t do well, and all points in between. From the program came talents we had not previously spotted, in music, in leadership and in unbounded love. The spin off, since we ended the program has been that we have had greatly increased numbers at Bible Study , and that the discussions in those groups have been much more widely based (though still with the obligatory rabbit holes!).
Council meetings have a much great spiritual element that before, and this is a direct result of JSP.
JSP has been talked about very widely in the Diocese, and we did have several members of other congregations join us as the program became known.
All told, JSP proved a spiritual fillip for us all, and we are sure that CSJ will be the same. We are better, more fulfilled and informed servants of Christ as a result of JSP.