We want to be a church which follows Jesus Christ by welcoming those who are searching, comforting those who are suffering, and nurturing those who are growing towards God. We want the church to be a centre of community for all who live in the neighbourhood, whether Christian or not. We want it to be an oasis of peace and a place of celebration. We want people to feel comfortable with us, and to sense something of God in our midst.
Caring for one another
Partly because the Church of England is so widespread and so "local" (it has over 16,000 churches and 13,000 active clergy in England alone) congregations are rarely so large that it becomes impossible for people to get to know one another. The parish church is usually a local church in every sense, often providing a strong community focus for all kinds of people, including those who are not Anglican, and perhaps not Christian. This means that the Church of England is able to put special emphasis on the personal care of, and attention to, individuals - whatever their circumstances or relationship with the Church or the Christian faith. Inevitably, those who attend regularly may come to feel that they are in some sense part of a family, and often form relationships which sustain them in their day-to-day lives.
At St Mark's, we are very conscious of this personal and community-building role, and believe it is something to which God himself calls us. We are a very mixed community in all sorts of ways; and we we believe this is an intimation of the family of humankind which God wants all people to belong to, regardless of their differences.
Prayer for the Parish
God, our Heavenly Father make, we pray, the door of this church wide enough to welcome all who need human love and fellowship and a Father's care: but narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and lack of love. Here may the tempted find help, the sorrowing receive comfort, and the penitent be assured of your mercy; and here may all your children renew their strength and go on their way in hope and joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath & Wells, 1684-1711)