Bath Abbey – a parish church; a home for congregations large and small; a pro-cathedral for the diocese; a centre of civic life; an icon of Christianity at the heart of a world heritage site; a spectacular concert venue; a host to many hundreds of thousands of visitors. The extraordinary riches of this place, however, present a challenge. How do we maintain a sense of focus in the context of such variety and possibility?
The Abbey Church Council (PCC) and other lay leaders addressed the question ‘What is our vision for Bath Abbey in 21st Century Britain?’ Over a two year period our responses have been distilled into the document that follows. Its purpose is to focus and coordinate the whole of our life together.
The Church Council identified ten areas where we believe it is right to apply our attention: Worship, Equipping for Ministry, Communication, Ministry of Welcome, Pastoral Care and Administration, Evangelism, Service to the City, Mission Links, Buildings, and Finance. These ten priorities form the spine of this document, and in each of these areas you will see the outline of a programme of coordinated activity for the next five years. We hope you will enjoy this account of the diverse life of the Abbey brought together in one place, and that you will be inspired to join in the refinement and realisation of the goals expressed here.
The one overarching statement that encompasses the ten strands of this document is ‘Bath Abbey - where earth and heaven meet’. It is, of course, a vision already vividly expressed in the design of the building. On the west front the famous ladders tell the story of an intimate connection between earth and heaven in Oliver King’s original vision for this church.
As we enter the Abbey our eyes are drawn up beyond the common horizon to the vault that seeks to echo the vault of heaven. This idea of heaven invading earth is also expressed in our worship as we, on earth, join with the everlasting worship of heaven. And so it continues, with every aspect of our life capable of being a place where the holy and mundane are caught in a mysterious, creative relationship.
The vision statement ‘where earth and heaven meet’ is a bold aspiration.
The Abbey’s architecture does everything a building could do to assist us towards this goal but it is, of course, powerless to convert that aspiration into reality. The Abbey Church Council invites you, therefore, to join with us in working for its realisation, as together we pray:
Lord of heaven and earth,
fill us with your Spirit
and inspire us with your love,
that all our life together
might increasingly become,
where earth and heaven meet.