This month we have not one, but two Chaplain’s Letters! This first one is written by the Rev. Grant Crowe, Amersfoort chaplain
This month which approaches, in the Anglican Calendar, is sometimes called Kingdom Season. It begins with All Saints Day and All Souls, moving through the Sundays, with our Remembrance Sunday and concluding the season and the church year with the celebration of Christ the King. In this short letter, I wanted to share what I was asked to write to ICS, about how the Christ the King’s purposes are being worked out in All Saints Amersfoort.
For some, parts of what I will share are not new. But our scripture reminds us, that we can never over repeat what the Lord has done – we just need to look at our Psalms for how we remember what the Lord has done which helps us in the here and now.
Christmas time, a time not normally known for being a quiet relaxed period! But on December 20th, 2015, All Saints was started – a daughter church of Holy Trinity Utrecht.
We chose the name ‘All Saints’ as it communicated some of our desired identity. All Saints – all who visit, regardless of all ages, all nationalities, all background, all sorts – all are saints through Christ. How are we All Saints? Through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. And all are called to live as saints – to be holy ones in this world, salt and light, distinctive, Jesus shaped, to imitate our King and Saviour.
All Saints was planted with a core group from Holy Trinity. As we celebrate and remember, Holy Trinity had grown beyond its building – even when it moved to having two Sundays in the morning and a monthly Saturday evening, it was still full. It was discerned the Lord was calling to plant – a number of people attending Holy Trinity were faithfully travelling the 20 or so minutes from Amersfoort. As St Paul would arrive at Philippi, after discerning the Spirit’s voice (Acts 16) not to go north east or south west further into Turkey ; but to go across the sea to Macedonia ( a totally new step), Holy Trinity Council discerned the calling of the Lord to establish a new Church of England congregation.
The intention was for All Saints to become a self standing separate distinct chaplaincy in the Diocese in three years. That special event, led by Archdeacon Paul Vrolijk, took place on June 2nd this year. Thank you for those of Holy Trinity who were to join us on that special day.
It has been a journey. We originally rented a Roman Catholic building no longer used for worship. This was the Heilige Geest Kerk in Amersfoort. But in October 2017, that building was sold, and we moved to our current home, the Nieuwe Erven, an old large farmhouse and barn converted into an contemporary arts and community centre. Yes, those photos are of rafters (!) – as our Archdeacon said on a visit, ‘All Saints does meet in a barn of a building.’! Our move to a informal venue has been a challenge for some, to no longer worship in a traditional church building, and a help for others. A church member shared, worshipping in an informal venue, gave her confidence to offer to serve as a musician. A visiting Albanian church leader (All Saints has a partnership with a Church Planting network in Tirana), said where we met, reminds him of where his churches meet – in rented shop premises. This month, on 3rd November, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP see http://idop.ca/ ). I realised again, that in so many parts of the persecuted Christian community – which is a part of the Body we choose to focus upon as All Saints – they are unable to meet in traditional church buildings either.
At All Saints, we teach about a core DNA for our life – UP, IN OUT. We believe we see these three elements in balance in Jesus own life – a life of prayer, sharing life with others (the Twelve) and forming disciples, serving others and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. We similarly seek to be a balanced church (rather than overly focused on one aspect): Worship and prayer (Up), deep community and lifelong discipleship (IN), and serving those outside the church’s walls, and evangelism, both locally and globally (OUT). We are working out action points putting that DNA into practice.
We are blessed with a stable congregation (with only one or two people leaving each year) – a situation which many chaplaincies do not have. When people visit, they have commented on the depth of devotion people have, or the number of children or young adults present. My wife Jolanda and I are in our 40s, and most members are younger than us!
Our plans for the future as we press on to the goal, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses? With the first Council, after an Away Day in September, we have agreed to continue to grow our prayer ministry and home groups. To develop our young adult and young person work further. To run Alpha across the church between Jan and Easter 2020. And to begin, in real practical terms, to be a blessing and serve our city. Unlike many chaplaincies, most of All Saints live in Amersfoort and plan to bring up their children here, and so we can actively consider, how we can play our part as part of the Body in this city and see it transformed.
Thank you for your support and for continuing to pray for us.
We remember and celebrate all that Christ the King has done. in Amersfoort, and will do, in the months ahead. We praise him for all he has done and how he has led, formed and provided. And we trust him in the times ahead. For our King is faithful and unchanging.
Revd Grant Crowe.