written by John Hadley, priest-in-charge of Horfield Parish Church
Horfield Parish Church stands on a hill which has been the site of Christian worship for over 1,000 years, and of pagan seeking after God before that. It is rooted in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. “Catholic” means “universal”, so that:
- The Church is worldwide. We come together not merely as a single congregation, but as part of the universal Church all around the world. There is only one God, only one Christ, only one Church, only one Eucharist. Artificial human barriers are of no importance.
- The Church is eternal. Even death is no barrier to God. We are one body with those who have gone before us, and with those who come after. The Saints pray with us and for us; and we pray for the departed as well as for the living.
- The Church should be inclusive. We want to welcome everyone, and exclude no one, whatever their age, race, background, nationality, or sexuality. God rejoices in all his children. And we welcome all who are searching for the truth in mind or spirit, wherever they are on the journey.
- The Church is ecumenical. Although we greatly cherish our own traditions and insights, we recognise that these can only be part of the whole truth of God, and that we should also rejoice in the riches of other forms of Christianity. To God we are all one Church.
- Worship is a meeting of earth and heaven. Catholic worship expresses, and enters, the mystery of God, who cannot be captured through mere words, doctrines, or formulae. So our worship takes us beyond words, a foretaste of the wonder and beauty of heaven.
- Worship involves the whole person. We therefore worship not only with our minds, but with our souls and bodies, using gesture, ritual, music, silence, and all the senses as a way of opening ourselves to God.
- The Church allows us to be ourselves. In our worship, our learning, and our social life, we should never force people into a mould, but set them free to become who God wants them to be. Ritual is not a straitjacket, but a framework which allows us to be who we are.
- Tradition is alive, not dead. The Spirit of God is alive and active, constantly leading us further into God’s truth. So tradition is not a dead weight inhibiting all growth, but a constant invitation to new and creative ways to understand God’s eternal truth.