Our Vision and Plans
Plans are being implemented over the period 2006 - 2012 which we believe will sustain and develop the mission of this strategic city centre church during the next few decades. In 2009 we started working towards increasingly closer co-operation with the Birmingham Methodist Central Mission.
Here is a little of the background to these plans:
2006 was a time of research, praying and planning for folk at Carrs Lane. With the key Sunday morning congregation somewhat smaller than when the Centre opened in 1970, but continuing to meet on this strategic site in the centre of Birmingham, many were aware of the ever-widening gap between the congregation and the busy, apparently successful Church Centre. And the building itself - erected nearly 40 years ago - was showing some signs of ageing.
A renewed sense of mission was sought; necessary adaptation of parts of the premises for 'emerging church' was acknowledged - and a profoundly incarnational theology led us again and again to explore our understanding of Christian 'community'. A stable financial base meant that it was not only possible to dream dreams, but to plan realistically for their fulfilment under the Spirit's guidance.
The following Key Statement and Principal Objectives offer only a brief insight into the deliberations of 2006; what is significant, however, is the fact that the proposals continue to enjoy the unanimous support of the Church Meeting, and folk follow progress with a growing sense of anticipation and excitement. There is a clear sense that God is doing things - and that we are caught up in his plans!
Developments with the Methodist Central Mission 2009-11
Starting in 2009, there have been significant conversations with the Birmingham Methodist Central Mission. A high level of co-operation between the two centres existed already; the respective ministers work closely together; a similar theological ethos and outlook are shared. It is planned that the relationship will move from one of co-operation to commitment, with the formation of a Local Ecumenical Partnership in the Carrs Lane premises. In 2010 the Methodist Central Mission's minister and other staff moved to offices in Carrs Lane. On Advent Sunday, 27th November 2011, there was a service to celebrate the coming together of the two churches, and to commit to eventually uniting them in a Local Ecumenical Partnership. We now function as a combined congregation.
The key statement which emerged out of our reflections in 2006 runs as follows:
Carrs Lane United Reformed Church is a community of Christians which seeks to respond honestly and imaginatively to the challenge to live out the Christian life in the centre of a 21st century city.
In time, a number of principal objectives emerged, as we sought to discern some of the 'specifics' of the above, and were stated as follows:
Carrs Lane is committed to the exploration and development of what it means to be a Christian community in the centre of Birmingham:
- Plans have been drawn up for the conversion of part of our premises into residential accommodation, which is taking place in the summer of 2007 (Done!)
- A full-time community leader will be appointed, and a Christian community will be recruited and developed (Done!)
- Accommodation will be offered free of charge to Christians with a heart for community living, in return for input into the ministries of the church. (Done!)
Carrs Lane is committed to the provision of experiences of 'church' and Christian teaching which are fully accessible to those exploring faith and those new to faith:
- The church is committed to the planting and sustenance of several new congregations (Continuing!)
- worshipping at times other than on a Sunday morning, and in ways that are most appropriate for them. (Done!)
Carrs Lane is committed to holistic ministry: the implications of Christian teaching impact on every dimension of life - body, mind and spirit:
- We hope that the provision of a gym or related activity, run in a overtly Christian way, lies at the heart of this: research is ongoing. (Dropped after detailed exploration - the space was used to develop a much improved Counselling Centre and meeting rooms in 2011.)
Carrs Lane is committed to an informed, consistent and responsive ministry of prayer - in the city, for the city:
- This ministry will be developed further and sustained in a number of ways - the role of the residential community will be central. Daily meetings for prayer (Ongoing!) - and a daily prayer walk in the city centre - will be at the heart of the ministry.
The first phase of the development plan was provision in 2007 for a resident community, and the creation early in 2008 of a room now known as the 'Lounge', to house new congregations with new styles of worship. (The current weekly services continue to be held - see the Worship & Prayer section.)
The second development phase, in summer 2008, included a major refurbishment of the main (middle) floor, with a new Reception Office and Fair Trade Shop; also refurbishment of the meeting rooms on the upper floor.
The third development phase, in summer 2011, turned the former cafe and kitchen area on the lower ground floor into a much improved Counselling Centre and meeting rooms.
The focus through 2009-11 has been on the developing relationship with the Birmingham Methodist Central Mission, as outlined above.