It’s been a joy to be part of Advent and Christmas at Great St. Mary’s this year.
We have a very special ministry in the centre of Cambridge, as a Church that is able to offer beautiful choral worship and to welcome large congregations of local people and visitors from across the world. We also provide hospitality to charitable organisations and schools in and around Cambridge for their Carol Services and celebrations. All of this would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of so many people at Great St Mary’s, from our young choristers to members of GSM who have served the Church for decades, often behind the scenes. A huge Thank You to everyone who has given so generously of their time and talent in the last weeks to enable us to worship, welcome and serve as God’s generous and visible people in the centre of Cambridge.
As we are entering the New Year, I would like to give an update on the process for recruiting a new vicar. About fifty people took part in five group consultation meetings reflecting on their experience of GSM in the last years and what they would value moving forward, both in the mission of the Church and a new vicar. Members of the Co-ordinating group also talked to the choirs and stakeholders beyond the congregation. Within the congregation, there was a strong feeling that stability is needed, and that sharing the gospel, deepening of faith and knowledge of Christian life, good pastoral care and stewardship of the environment are key priorities for the mission and ministry of GSM.
The PCC is meeting for an away day on 7th January to pray, discuss and discern the priorities for the mission and ministry of GSM for the next five to ten years, taking into account what has emerged from the consultations, but also the bigger picture which includes being the University Church, the Civic Church, ministry in the centre of the city, to visitors and tourists, the market and shop communities around us, and a centre for heritage and education. The aim is to come up with a deeper understanding of the mission potential of GSM and Michaelhouse and to identify priorities for the mission and ministry of GSM in the next five years that are aspirational, yet realistic taking into account our resources.
We are grateful to Andrew Dobson and Margaret Ingram for agreeing to put together the parish profile, with the aim to have this approved by the PCC, Archdeacon and Patron by the end of March, so we can advertise after Easter, with interviews early in June. Please, hold this process prayerfully in your thoughts and conversations, praying for openness to and guidance by God’s Holy Spirit.
My aim, as Priest in Charge, in the months ahead is to support this process and to build up the sense of community in the congregation and encourage the many gifts in our midst, so that we can make the gospel known through our lives, our worship and commitment to seeking God together.
At the threshold of a New Year, I commend Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s prayer, written in prison on the eve of 1945:
By gracious powers wonderfully sheltered
And confidently waiting, come what may,
We know that God is with us night and morning,
And never fails to meet us each new day. 
Wishing you and GSM rich blessing in 2023,
 English versification in ‘Ancient & Modern Hymns and Songs for Refreshing Worship’, Hymn 605. It is the last stanza of Bonhoeffers Prayer