our Vicar, Andy Murray
We are two Church of England parishes, working together in North West Bristol, seeking to play our part in growing God's Kingdom in our local communities and beyond. We seek to base everything we do on the Word of God, brought alive to us by the Spirit of Jesus, who transforms us to be more like him.
We are part of the wider Avonside Mission Area that was formed in 2017, which is made up of St Andrew’s Church Avonmouth, St Edyths Church Sea Mills, St Mary’s Church Shirehampton, St Mary’s Church Stoke Bishop & St Peter’s Church Lawrence Weston. Together we have a bold vision to bring about the social, cultural and spiritual transformation of our communities in partnership with Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As local churches we long to see the church flourishing with children, young people and adults of all ages, where every member of the church is growing in their relationships with Jesus, using the gifts God is giving them - each of us playing our part in building His kingdom, seven days a week.
Our local vision is rooted in three key Bible passages:
“Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:16-19)
In this passage Luke records Jesus’ claim that He is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s 700 year old prophecy. The long awaited Messiah come to bring the ultimate good news of wisdom, freedom & healing - the Lord’s favour. Not only did Jesus make that grand claim, but we see from the breadth of the New Testament, that He backed-up those words with actions. We also see how Jesus handed on the batten to his followers through the equipping and power of the Holy Spirit. They they shared in Jesus’s ministry’s of bringing healing, freedom and transformation to so many. We believe that as Jesus’ followers we too have this same call today.
The Great Commandment
When Jesus was asked what is most important for life, he replied:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:37-40)
The Great Commission
As Jesus prepared to leave his disciples to grow the church and transform the world, he set out their mission, saying:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
From these passages we sense God’s call to be a people who are proactive at:
The heart of the Good news is that by accepting what Jesus Christ has done for us, and choosing to follow him, we are forgiven for the wrong things we do. The slate is wiped clean and we can grow in our connectedness to God. Not just in following a set of rules for life, but by having a tangible sense of knowing that we are loved and equipped by God through the Holy Spirit. At the heart of our vision is the desire to help each other grow in our personal relationship with Him.
Part of the call of God on us is also to connect with each other - the church is the people of God, not buildings - so for us to grow together as a flourishing church family we prioritise time together: worshipping and studying the bible together, meeting & eating together regularly.
Flowing from this is our desire to grow our connectedness with our wider community - friends, neighbours, in the local shops, people at work, school or college - to show something of God’s love in the hope that others will come to know and experience the good news of Christ’s love & healing.
Jesus’ first disciples were challenged by God’s call to be a people who served others sacrificially. Just as Jesus modelled what it meant to be great in his kingdom, by washing his disciples feet, we too are challenged not to chase fame or status, but live a life that shows God’s love for others through simple acts of service.
One of the early church leaders, the Apostle Paul, describes the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). One body with many different parts, not parts of different status, but parts that all have a purpose.
As the local church we long to see everyone using their God given gifts and skills to serve the church and wider community. We believe that as each of us grow in our commitment to live like this, the church and wider community will flourish.
Jesus choosing to die on the cross for us that first Easter, taking on all the things we have done wrong on his shoulders, was viewed by many as failure. But the good news is that Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He overcame death and rose again three days later. In doing so He made a way for us to be forgiven and welcomed into his family - sons and daughters, with the promise of eternal life with Him. Not by earning his favour by anything we have done or can do, but simply by accepting His free gift of love personally. This is a message of transformation.
As we follow Jesus with our lives and get to know him more, He works in our hearts and lives to bring transformation. We believe He is able to help us change, through the work of his Holy Spirit: bringing healing and restoration where there is brokenness; comfort where there is sorrow and pain; bringing hope where there is despair; bringing wisdom where there is confusion.
We recognise that as we are transformed through our life with Jesus we are more able to bring His transformation to our local communities and the wider world. From this we have a growing heart for social justice: helping those who are suffering the challenges of poverty and need, and caring for those in the toughest seasons of life.
This is a vision for mission where we follow Christ’s call for us to grow in personal faith and be a blessing to the community around us - our friends, neighbours, work colleagues, and those we meet in our community. Not motivated by a sense of duty or compulsion, but from our own personal experience of knowing Christ’s love and wanting to show His love in words and actions to those around us. God calls us to this live this out individually and as a gathered church family.
From this vision flow three key priorities for the coming season:
Children and families Outreach and discipleship
Connecting with our local community - socially and missionally
Developing our small group discipleship gatherings, in partnership with the Avonside Mission Area churches
Values are things that we hold as important. What we value is generally what we do, what we do is what we value. We understand that for us to pursue our vision effectively we need to build the life of our church around a set of values that we see in the life of the early church in the bible: All Involved, Becoming Disciples, Creating Community, Doing Evangelism, Encountering Jesus.