Welcome to the Annual report for 2020 - Ivy’s Year of Focus. Little did we know what sort of focus this year would bring! The unprecedented events of the year certainly brought much of our everyday lives into sharp focus. Through restriction we became aware of that which is most valuable and precious to human society - one another, and the freedom to be community and to love and serve that community as Jesus would have us do.
There has been such a great deal of loss - some have said that this pandemic has been a great leveller - a storm that we have been through together. However I would argue that we have ridden this storm in significantly different vessels. Some have survived, thrived even. Others have been shipwrecked by 2020. It’s a hard year to reflect back on with many mixed emotions.
It has been a turbulent year to navigate as a leadership, with no route map or familiar signs to help us. And yet we have been so aware that we have a compass and an anchor which has held firm despite the storms (Heb 6:19). We have been so grateful for the love and support of a wider body of ‘elders’ this year to help us to discern God’s voice, to process the ever changing landscape and to plot a way forward. Some decisions have felt obvious, essential and clear, others have been much harder to come to. We have also been so grateful for Anthony and his calm and clear leadership, his ability to seek out wisdom wherever it may be found, and to ask the tough questions to make sure we aren’t missing out on anything God is saying, or would have us do.
We have seen new innovations, experiments and opportunities open up exciting new mission areas. Since the start of the year when we met in sites, we have commissioned hundreds of new churches that meet in your homes, as well as all together online. We have seen an increasing sense of the role of all of us in building the church, outside of the building, on the streets where we live and the space that we inhabit. This will take courage and conviction, but 2020 has focussed our attention on a world in dire need of the hope that we have, and the necessity of all of us to roll up our sleeves and follow Jesus wherever and to whomever he leads us.
On behalf of the Elders
I highly recommend the fascinating book, “Morality” by Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi, which was published pre-pandemic but resonates even more since.
Sacks details how our society has moved from a “We/us” culture to an “I” culture.
“God says, “It is not good for a person to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), but not until relatively recently has it been seen as a major health hazard… associated with psychiatric conditions …and physical conditions. Social isolation is itself as harmful to health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and more harmful than obesity.”
So I don’t want this report for Ivy members or those who are considering joining only to tell you what you already know about how the world went crazy in 2020. Nor do I want to simply list the amazing stats and stories recounting the great things God enabled us to do despite the most dreadful, difficult and divisive of years as we stayed focused on the Jesus mission
Instead of that, I want to say thank you. Thank you for sticking at it and staying together. I believe Jesus had years like 2020 in mind when he prayed, “…that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).
I often say I don’t know how anyone could have got through life’s tragedies, terrors and tears without knowing the Lord, but 2020 underlined for me like never before the truth that it’s not good to be alone and I’m not ashamed to admit I could not have coped alone - and because we are part of Ivy, we never have to be. I thank God for my family and friends, for the elders and staff, for my Grow Group, and for each and every one of you however long you have been connected that you have remained faithful, served and loved, given and forgiven, prayed and persevered, adapted and adjusted, so that in 2021 we will not fall apart, because we stand together.