I have not met all of you, so for the sake of clarity: my name is Fr. Danny Pegg and I am a Church of England minister licensed to two parishes: Hampden Park and Willingdon.
I am writing to you with an opportunity of partnership in the gospel, for Advent 2022. I have already spoken to my colleagues within the Church of England and we have 10+ parishes interested in being involved.
In December 2021, Inspiring Angels Ipswich launched its ‘angel festival’ across all of Ipswich, connecting over a hundred churches alongside many business and civic partners. Using angel artwork, scripture, and themed events, ecumenical colleagues connected with over 15,000 people over December, providing untold opportunities for engagement on the real message of Christmas across Ipswich inside and outside of churches, inside and outside of acts of worship. The folk in Ipswich will be doing this again, and are even pushing for this to be taken up as an National Church initiative.
We could do the same in our town in 2022.
To be involved, all any church or partner has to do is have something that connects with angels for some or all of the period of Advent, be this an art installation, an angel carol service, a prayer trail, a giant pair of selfie wings, a Bible study series on the angels in the nativity stories, or anything else! Big or small, it doesn’t matter! You would have control over your contribution and develop this in your way, that is authentic to your church community. This would form part of the trail and in return you would have all of your Advent and Christmas events / services advertised centrally, as well as hopefully, some increased traffic into your worship spaces, groups, club, services and mission and evangelism work. There would also hopefully emerge a few ‘flagship’ events too that would enable people across our deanery to come together. In Ipswich, this was a civic carol service which the Mayor attended which drew a very large crowd indeed.
Sometimes, the thought of joining in with yet ‘another thing’ can feel a bit overwhelming or damaging to our core initiatives at our busy times, but in this case, I would suggest that you quite easily tie in something you would have done anyway. It is also an opportunity to see if this idea excites any imaginations in our congregations, and it could be that our congregations design and lead the majority of these! In short, I see this as a really positive example of something we can do together with relatively low effort that results in something bigger than the sum of its parts. We can show our town that we are all active, and bothered about Christmas, and provide something accessible to those all too easily consumed by ‘commercial Christmas.’ We can announce with the angels that Jesus is coming!
You can find more information about the Inspiring Angels Ipswich 2021 effort on their website: https://www.inspiringangels.org.uk/
I hope you would like to partner in some way with us on this one – we really think this could have a big impact!
God bless you and your congregations,
The Revd. Danny Pegg
Associate Vicar for Mission and Discipleship
The Parish of Hampden Park & The Hydneye and The Parish of Willingdon