Minister’s Letter for August

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Dear Friends,

The last time I wrote I was in the middle of packing boxes and I thought it would never end. I sit here now in my new study which is looking almost tidy. Most of the vicarage is sorted, and I am ready to ‘get going’’.

Today is my second full day as Priest in Charge and I remain overwhelmed by your generous spirit of welcome and hospitality.

Both services on Sunday were an absolute delight – even if we almost did melt in the heat. The informal short service of welcome at Pittington and the longer more formal service at Belmont contrasted well I thought. Each was special in its own way.

It was a joy to meet people of both churches, to welcome people from Harelaw and Annfield Plain and even from Burnopfield where I was curate. It was good to meet past clergy and those who have been very active during the vacancy. I especially delighted in being invited to pop in to see youth group members during the reception in the parish hall.

I would however, like to thank the people of St Mary’s and St Laurence’s for the hard work in the parishes during the vacancy – but I must especially thank the churchwardens, Geoff, Alan, Dave and Rob for shouldering the responsibility.

In last month’s magazine I spoke of the reading from 1 Samuel I chose for the licensing service. This time I would just like to say a little of the other reading from Romans 12 and why I chose it.

As a priest I value each and every member of the churches congregations. I value that each of every one of us is different but I also value and I am thankful that each of us is equal in God’s eyes. But we are all called to work together ‘in this place and in this time’. It is in the reading from Romans 12 where we are reminded that we all have different gifts – according to the grace given to us. It would be boring, would it not, if all of us were the same? How then could we grow as a church if we could not all learn and benefit from one another’s gifts?

For certain, many have faithfully used their God-given gifts for many years, others will be newer to church life and they will just have been used for a little while, and yet others will still have undiscovered gifts. Some will be weary while others might be chomping at the bit to do something. Some may be reserved and worried what others might think if they take the risk and step forward. However, we are called to use our gifts to the best of our ability.

With these things in mind be assured I am here to support and encourage you in using your gifts, in helping you recognise them if they haven’t yet surfaced. I can help you slow down and encourage you to rest if you are weary and that is what is needed.

The parishes of Belmont & Pittington are entering a new phase on our journey and it is an absolute delight to be part of the journey with you. I am sure we have a lot to share and a lot to discover together and I thank God that he has placed me here. I pray that each of us discovers God’s blessing on our lives as we step out in faith together that we may be a blessing to others in all that lies ahead.

God Bless