Jesus was asked ‘What is the most important commandment?’ He replied, ‘Love God, love your neighbour.’ We take the things Jesus did and said with the utmost seriousness, and so we believe these are the two most important commandments for us to live by; we are to love God and to love people.
// Loving God means getting to know Him from the bible and each other, it means worshipping Him in words and music, it means learning to live more like Jesus.
// Loving people means listening, serving and seeking the wellbeing of all people - both those we find it easy to love us and those we are still learning to love. It means serving our neighbours, colleagues and local communities.
And GKChurch is a community that is learning to live like this; a community of ordinary people of every sort and kind, who are learning to love God and to love people.
And the prayer on the right hand side of this page, which was written by St Paul to a church that was trying to do exactly the same thing 2000 years ago, particularly inspires us. Like them, we want to ‘love much and to love well.’
There are five things that we think are most important in our shared life at St Mary’s as we learn to love God and to love people. These are the things that we will focus on, work towards and work to make happen. These are the things that matter to us.
First, we want to welcome everyone and anyone; all are welcome. We want to be known for the quality of our welcome. Not just for our welcome of people who look like us, who behave like us or who value the same things as us, but of everyone. Our invitation is always: ‘Come as you are’. Come as you are, whatever is going on in your life, whatever you believe or don’t believe, whether you’re in church every Sunday, haven’t been for some time or are here for the first time ever.
Second, Jesus is at the centre of everything that we do. What makes church, ‘church’ is that we proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen from the dead. And so our beating heart is prayer, our every breath is worship, our minds are shaped by Scripture, our desire is to be more like Jesus tomorrow than we are today. Jesus is the centre of everything that we are and everything that we do.
Third, we will give priority to serving children, young people and families. Of course we will do all the things that churches do, and we are here for everyone of all ages, but the priority for us is to support children and teenagers to grow in faith, which also means supporting families to grow in faith. So when we have a choice about where to spend extra money, or where to give more time, or where to pay most attention, it will be to young people; both those who are part of the church, and those who aren’t yet. That’s why we run Blend, Cafe Toddlers, the Sunday groups, Youth Group. The Marriage Sessions and The Weald Family Hub.
Fourth, we want to help people grow in a seven day faith. Sunday church is great; we love worshipping, learning together, sharing bread and wine and hanging out with each other, but the purpose of everything we do on Sundays is to enable us to be followers of Jesus for the rest of the week - in the school playground, in our families, when we’re at work and while we’re out and about in our communities. We go to church on Sunday so we can be church from Monday to Saturday.
Fifth, we want to be generous with everything we’ve been given. In Matthew’s gospel, when Jesus sends his disciples out to share the good news that he has been teaching them, he says this: ‘As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.’ We know, individually and as a church, that we have been given so much and in every way, and we want to be generous with it all.