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Rector’s New Book Puts Focus On Loving The Local Community

Published on: 19 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 19 Oct, 2012

A Guildford rector’s regular blog on his parish’s website and his commitment to the local community has resulted in him being asked to write a new book.

Canon Robert Cotton with his new book.

Reimagining Discipleship: Loving the local community is by Canon Robert Cotton, rector of Holy Trinity & St Mary’s Churches. His theme is encouraging others to “love the local community” and to recognise a calling to help others. He even goes as far as saying that maybe it doesn’t matter if not many people go to church these days, as long as those who do go  – the disciples – remain faithful and provide an example of Christianity, and believe on behalf of others.

Robert knows from his work in Guildford that there are many people who have some kind of faith but who do not normally attend church. And these people do, in fact, appreciate the disciples (the regular churchgoers) being there, but don’t necessarily want to join in.

Robert believes that this may even lead to future growth of the Church. He therefore encourages the disciples to be active, living their faith, and to be an example to others. For him, people are hugely important.

Publishers SPCK were looking for a “new voice” and liked Robert’s blog, so invited him to write the book. He has been rector of the two churches since 1996, and is very much involved in the local community, through his involvement with many local schools, charities and other organisations, and also in South Africa, working with children affected by HIV/AIDS.

The book is rooted in his reflections on daily life, treasuring ordinary experiences which sometimes give a glimpse of something beyond, something spiritual, “showing God working among us and through us”.

You don’t expect a clergyman to terrify a woman dog-walker, but in the book Robert uses an incident when he was running on Newlands Corner and tripped himself up that led to a discussion of whether moral principles are absolutely true and permanent.

The book includes several other stories about his work in Guildford, illustrating the points he makes. Although the book is rooted in the author’s ministry here, he makes points that are relevant everywhere. They range from a startling explanation of the Old Testament to the recent Street Angels project in Guildford.

The book has three parts, about living the faith publically, being responsible, and what the consequences are for the Church in listening and responding. It is fairly short, with 150 pages, but is a good read.

Robert says that the book contains insights for everyone. Christians will find inspiration in it, and non-Christians will find a wise and humane description of Christian behaviour and belief: loving the local community.

Robert is also Honorary Canon of Guildford Cathedral and the Diocese of the Highveld, South Africa.

Published by SPCK, the book costs £12.99. If you can’t find the book in local bookshops, try Amazon, or buy a copy for £10 from the Parish Office: 5, Trinity Churchyard, Guildford, GU1 3RR. 01483 567716.

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