The Church universal finds spiritual and social expression in the local church. One of the metaphors I often employ to address the members of the congregation is, “People of God.” The metaphor makes sense because it provides a historical, spiritual and social sanction to the identity of the People as described in the Bible and the new identity that is found and formed in early Christianity and its relevance for us today.
The idea of the People of God points to the idea that we are the Community of God that reflects the character of God and we are precious in God’s sight (1 Peter 2:4-9). It means we strive to love God and love God’s people, and that we are home to everyone who is received and even rejected by the world.
The idea of the People of God strives us to be a community that welcomes and belongs. A community that celebrates hospitality and generosity, that experiences and shares the embrace of God without any distinction or prejudice. Andrew’s is home of People from diverse traditions, cultures, languages and ethnic traditions. The idea of a family or a home away from home is something dear to the Andrew’s family, and sharing quality time and developing friendships are celebrated with a sense of joy. Having conversations and sharing ideas over Coffee under the Tamarind Tree are now part of the legacy of the church. We are intentional about sharing the embrace of God to everyone who comes in and our sanctuary is not only a spiritual space, but an eco-sanctuary that celebrates God’s creation. We are conscious about sustaining the resources provided by God, and our Rain Water Harvesting Project and Solar Powered Lighting are simple examples of our commitment to sustain the present for the future. We are also conscious that more needs to be done. Our neighbours are the esteemed members of the Armed Forces, whose selfless service we value and cherish. These are ideas that help us in realising our overarching goal of “Equipping Congregations in God’s Mission,” a goal that is set in the context of participatory process of collective thinking, participation and sharing of the gifts and talents given by God. The members of the Pastorate Committee numbering twelve provide the vital space for this process and they in turn provide leadership to several members who are involved in Sub-committees and Teams. The several ministry initiatives cover all age groups and it is our conviction that each one is precious in the sight of God and can be equipped to become partners in the mission of God. Our ministry-reach includes Children, Teens, Young Couples, Women, Elderly and Professionals. Our care extends to people who experience loss with bereavement support. More involvement means more engagement and more engagement means more motivation, and more motivation means more impact. Impacting persons and communities keeps driving us in doing what we are doing for God’s glory. An effective Staff Team, with key management principles and performance indicators, add value to the continuing work entrusted to us.
Our key focus areas can be summarised under four heads: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship and Service.
Worship is given utmost importance in our Christian life. Coming from a reformed tradition from the Church of Scotland, the participation of the Laity is critical to all our endeavours and the partnership of the Clergy and the Laity illustrates that good work is all about partnership.
Fellowship is a key in building up the Community, and it is more than a Sunday morning meeting for worship. Spiritual enrichment must be nurtured with a meaningful social life that helps people. Every ministry encourages small group meetings and fellowships, both offline and online. Bible Studies, Prayer, and Care contribute immensely to the fellowship. Every new member is welcomed and time taken to facilitate and help them find their comfort zones in the church. Our CARE Group with effective local leadership is an initiative to reach the last person in the congregation. Effective use of social media is becoming critical in keeping in touch with people. Our communication networks include Monthly Newsletter, Facebook Page, Whatsapp Groups and essential Telephone Communication. Our statement of Fellowship - we are available anytime. The Pandemic has been a time of learning, and an important lesson, just be there!
Discipleship is an idea that drives to understand our work both within and outside the church. Discipleship is an intentional motivation to share the Good News of Justice, Peace and Love, and Call to equip and empower. Discipleship is an act of teaching and learning. Our work at St. Andrew’s School at Siddapura for over forty years for children in the margins has been an effective way to carry out this. Rural empowerment is an effective way of reaching out, and our work for over a decade in Tubagere, Doddballapur Taluk, Bengaluru Rural District, illustrate our commitment to marginalised communities.
Service is a way of expressing God’s love to those in need. Not to be served, but to serve is a call that we take seriously at Andrew’s. The Covid-19 pandemic has been the greatest moments of pain and loss, but one of the greatest opportunities to serve. Our Covid Agape Emergency Fund is one such initiative which is in the sixth phase and continues to support people and livelihoods both in church and communities outside, irrespective of their identity. The Neighbourhood in Need program as part of the Agape Fund supported anyone in need who walked into the campus. Our Poor Fund and Educational Scholarships support people and families in need.
Our life and work at St. Andrew’s, true to the life of the Patron Saint, is a ministry carried out with humility, sincerity and commitment, with no personal glory to any human being but only to God. We celebrate meeting together and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).
Come, join us in a journey of Reconciliation and Transformation.
Rev. Dr Dexter S. Maben