I had a very exciting day yesterday. Some of the prime movers and shakers in the world of the TQ and The Dock, all of whom I’ve met individually at various stages, all sat around the same table for the first time to talk Dock. There was a real sense of optimism and hope for the whole project; a feeling that it is the right idea. I hope so!
It made me stop for a few moments and take stock; where are we after the last few months of progress? Last weekend The Dock celebrated its 10-month birthday; double figures! Which means, rather scarily, that instead of saying that The Dock project has been up and running “for a few months”, which sounds nice and short, I have to say “for nearly a year”, which sounds like a significant amount of time.
As I reflected, the first thing to deal with is that everything – everything – takes longer than I thought it would. I guess I’m naturally a pretty impatient person anyway, and as I launched out into the TQ last November I hoped I’d be up and running, with a boat and a congregation and everything, by this summer. I’m learning that nothing that’s built from the ground up happens overnight, and that fools rush in. And I’m learning to be a bit more patient.
The second thing I reflected on is how different the whole project looks – in a good way! – from my unformed initial intentions. It started off with a pitch – Church on a boat – which has turned into a vision – Shared Medley on a boat, a new expression of church for a new era of Northern Ireland. The people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve enjoyed, over the past year have been unpredictable, unexpected, and sometimes out of my comfort zone – which is, on reflection, exactly how it should be!
The third thing I’ve really enjoyed is the chance to get back to basics and ask some big questions – what is church really all about? Why are we here? What do we add to the community? The discussions in Dock Book Group have been a big part of that process, and now I’m also being forced – in a good way! – to answer those questions as we write a Business Plan for The Dock.
The Business Plan will hopefully lead to the formation of a Board of Trustees; the Board of Trustees will hopefully lead to the establishment of a Company; the Company will hopefully be able to go boat-shopping; and the boat will hopefully provide the base and the focal point (the docking station…?) for all the exciting ministry opportunities in the TQ. It sounds complicated, and long, but I’m becoming convinced that it’s the best way to go about things; the company will be a neutral body, whose sole aim is to provide shared space for chaplaincy activity in the TQ – it won’t carry a vested interest or a dominance from any one denomination.
So that’s where we are at the minute; the Business Plan is taking shape, and as part of researching it, I’m getting to meet all sorts of interesting people, and find out about lots of brilliant organisations which have similar aims, or are run along similar lines. It’s a fascinating process and a very privileged chance to see all the different ways in which God is at work.
On a completely different note, I’ll sign off with a picture which proves that the Titanic Quarter is still definitely a work in progress – even down to the progress of the signage…