May 2017

Dear friends

If you’ve tried to leave Whitley Bay by road at any time in the past year or so, it won’t have escaped your attention that a large number of our roads have been under some form of redevelopment or another. In some places this has been minor, while in others some considerable construction has been taking place. Some of these projects will take many years before the ‘in progress’ work is completed and a new way of travelling can be achieved. The process can be lengthy, it can cause disruption, it can make us anxious, and frustrated.

Whatever we may feel about such work, the ideas behind such development of the roads are largely to make our journeys easier and safer, and in doing so, make them more enjoyable. We may struggle at times to see the logic behind these plans, and question whether there really is a benefit, but once we agree that something needs to be done to an accident blackspot or bottleneck, some disruption seems inevitable.

In these situations a number of techniques are used by the contractors to ensure that the work can be carried out safely and in a way in which it will last. The appearance of tens or hundreds of cones along the road, warn us of the danger and direct us in a way that keeps the traffic flowing but gives space for work to take place.

To ensure that the contractors are kept safe, there are often a number of speed restrictions and lane closures put in place. In extreme works, roads are closed, turnings prohibited, diversions made, or lights are installed to stop and direct traffic. These can slow us down or direct us on a specific path through the works. Sometimes this frustrates those who want to go faster or are in a rush, while for others this can lead to going much slower to be careful of what might be going on around them. Some may even avoid the roads just to save the inconvenience.

We have to recognise with these that if junctions are going to be improved or if roads are going to be restyled to make for easier travel there will be a level of inconvenience, disruption or frustration. We want our journey to be as uninhibited as possible. But if we want those after us to have access to roads that are fit for a new purpose, for different types of vehicles with different speeds, that allow for better journeys, we have to allow these works to take place. Only if these alterations happen will all our journeys be made better.

The same is true in the life of the Church. When we agree that work needs to be done to develop our life, when we call a different type of Minister with a different outlook, we make a decision to start the roadworks. A minister or elders try to find ways to continue our journey without total disruption, while keeping in mind that we have spotted the need for development and enhancing our life. As we seek to make ourselves relevant and fit for the future, we need to find ways to make alterations that ensure those who want to continue using this route in the years to come can do so in a way that is appropriate for how the Church is now and will be in the future. Sometimes we might need to stop things, or take a different direction through things, to free up our workers to work in new areas with confidence that they won’t be put in danger of overwork or illness. Care for those on the voyage and those working on the path is paramount.

Whether the works are minor or will take many years to come to fruition, we continue our journey together, seeking a path that will make us fit for a long term future, ready for the challenges that may affect the Church not only today and tomorrow, but in the years to come.