Nobody could accuse Jesus of lacking clarity. There it is, in the DNA of every church for the last 2000 years. If we’re not doing the above we should look ourselves in the mirror and say is this really church? Are we disciples or distracted? A few Christians in hiding in North Korea, an orthodox church on a Greek island or a mega-church with plasma screens and Stetsons in the southern USA - what will you see? Love God. Love your neighbour. Baptise. Make disciples. That’s what we do.
But the two billion of us on the planet are doing it differently. Just as the Old Testament psalms don’t have original tunes prescribed, the New Testament church doesn’t have a defining culture or methodology, and each church has a unique beauty and character that sets it apart, and a unique context and challenges to face. So what is God doing here at Malmesbury Abbey? Who are we?
We meet in 12th century beauty. We’ve inherited a breathtaking place for worship and mission from the generations which have gone before us. We love it, we’re less excited by the utility bills, but we are grateful for our turn to be stewards of an icon of the Christian faith in the South West. 12th century beauty. But we are also passionate about being a grace-filled 21st century church. Movement not monument; revival not relic. And three clarifying core values have emerged which say an awful lot about us, draw together our passions and find their roots in the monastic tradition.
At the Abbey you will encounter a great welcome and stewards team, a professionally led café and bookshop, a diverse culture of worship on Sundays, teams that pray for healing on our streets, ongoing partnership with organisations such as BBC History, BBC Gardening, Music for Autism & Wiltshire Council, regular Alpha courses for those exploring the Christian faith, and Malmesbury Abbey Skate, now in it’s 7th year, welcoming 600-700 children and families each February half term through the doors of the Abbey.
Abbey ministries rooted in this less glamorous value are things like a commitment to daily prayer at 9am, sound financial and property oversight, a commitment to applied biblical teaching, trained small group pastors who nurture prayer, study and fellowship in small communities, and an excellent relationship with our local CE primary school.
Our annual Holy Week Festival says a lot about how our community embraces this value: jazz, blues, poetry, art, classical, drama, comedy, prayer, science forums, prayer labyrinths and cinema, all blended with a devotions centred on the cross of Christ and celebrations powered by His resurrection. You’ll also encounter a Holiday at Home for the Elderly, the breathtaking beauty of our Advent & Christmas Carol Services, professional actors performing The Malmesbury Nativity, a Glow! Halloween party for kids, a Creative Response arts group, and Lifepath - working with Scripture Union and our local schools.
This doesn't describe everything that happens at Malmesbury Abbey, far from it. But in most of the things that we do you can see something of these three values: Hospitality, Stability & Creativity. And we're OK with that because we believe that they reflect the nature of God, and because we want everybody in North Wiltshire to encounter the heavenly Father that loves us, the Saviour, Jesus, that we can build our lives upon, and the Spirit that breathes new life in these old bones.