As we find ourselves in the embrace of another Christmas season, I write to share with you a message of hope that I trust will encourage us into 2024. Reflecting back on 2023, and all that has taken place, is always a good exercise; especially as a new-ish CEO, having made a transition from a different role in the organisation, and seeing things in a new way.
This year has unfolded with both triumphs and challenges for The Parish Trust. We’ve witnessed the blossoming of our youth and children’s programmes, the ongoing development of the CARE Project, and the nurturing of wellbeing through various events and activities. Moreover, our commitment to supporting our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and their families has been unwavering, underscoring the compassion that is core to who we are as an organisation.
However, amidst these accomplishments, we have also faced the unexpected news of having to leave our current premises—a development that has prompted contemplation and reflection among us. This significant hurdle has been met with a mix of emotions, from disappointment to uncertainty, from a sense of identity loss to an excitement at the opportunity to grow elsewhere. Currently we are trying to plan the logistical changes that are needed, mainly wrapping up here and finding a new place to call home, all of which will happen in the coming year.
Change is never easy, and it often tests the strength of our faith and commitment. In times of change and uncertainty, it is natural to seek solace and understanding, and to try to make plans, even though it may turn out to be a futile task at times.
In considering our current situation and our Christian foundations, I am drawn to the timeless Christmas story—the narrative of a child born in humble surroundings, surrounded by the uncertainties of the world. The parallel with our own challenges is not lost on us, and it invites us to reflect on the essence of hope that Christmas embodies.
The story of Jesus’ birth is not a tale of opulence or ease. Instead, it speaks to the quiet strength found through faith in God and the promise of hope in the midst of adversity. The manger, though humble, became the cradle for a message that transcends time and circumstance – that God is truly with us, that he keeps his promises, and that despite how messy things look, God’s working may yet to be revealed.
No doubt it was quite a journey that Mary and Joseph went on to get to that understanding; from the unexpected news from an angel, to the undoubted skepticism and the copious explaining that had to be done in the 9 months leading up to the birth. But in the end, through the trials and uncertainties, a plan unfolded before them, and the Light of the World was theirs to experience in a way that none of us could dream of.
Similarly, as we face the prospect of finding a new home for The Parish Trust, I’m encouraging all of our trustees, staff, volunteers, supporters and beneficiaries to find solace in the Christmas message and hope for a wonderful future. There’s everything to gain when we trust an unknown future to a known God who has come to us in Jesus! The challenges we encounter are but temporary shadows against the enduring promise of hope born – the one who has been described as “God with us”.
The hope of Christmas lies not in the absence of difficulties but in the presence of something greater than ourselves— Jesus’ presence that accompanies us through the twists and turns of our journey. It is a reminder that, just as the Christmas story unfolded in the most unexpected of places, I’m convinced that the continuing story of The Parish Trust is guided by a higher purpose beyond our immediate understanding.
As we reflect on the past year and look towards the horizon of what lies ahead, I hope and pray that the birth of Jesus that we remember at this time, whether we have faith or not, will infuse our hearts with peace. May the hope that Christmas brings be a comforting companion to all of you, and us as The Parish Trust family, as we look forward to what 2024 will bring.
Wishing you a reflective and Merry Christmas on behalf of us all here at The Parish Trust,
Rev. Dean Aaron Roberts
Chief Executive Officer
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6
Of further interest...
Rev. Dean Aaron Roberts
Rev. Dean Aaron Roberts (BA, MA, Cert.RSCM) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Parish Trust. Prior to his current role, Dean was the Chair of Trustees for the charity. Dean has worked in a ministerial role as an ordained minister. He also holds a position at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board as a Chaplain. He is the Vice Chair of Governors of a primary school, and has served on various Boards and Committees throughout his career. Dean is a member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO)