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Minister’s Letter, June 2017
It’s hard to believe as I am writing this that this is my last Grapevine letter, after five very full and blessed years here in Belmont and Pittington. First, please can I take this opportunity to invite all you who are reading this to come to say goodbye at my final service and bring and share lunch? That’s on Sunday 25th June, at 10.30 for the service in St Mary Magdalene Church and from 12 for the lunch and party in Belmont Parish Hall. All welcome, young and old: it would be lovely to see you all in one place for what will no doubt be a rousing, if emotional, send-off! There are also, as I write, a few seats left on the minibus bringing a group over to my induction in Liverpool on 10th August: speak to Anna to book.
As I look back over these past five years, there are so many highlights that stand out. Some are very public – like the unveiling of the first phase of the new St Mary Magdalene banner, the restoration work to our church buildings, or the launch of Messy Church, Harvest and the Palm Sunday Procession in Pittington. Schools events – among other things, I’m a governor at Belmont CE Primary School – and working with the Scouts, Guides, Girls Friendly Society, church youth group and junior church have provided some of the noisier and most chaotic happy memories. Others cluster around the shared experience of food and eating and drinking together – Cream Teas at St Laurence, Posh Nosh, tea parties, Café Church and The Table, to name but the most regular events.
Other highlights are found in the much quieter, more private moments that I have been privileged to share with individuals, couples and families. Together we have shared memories of loved ones; planned funerals, baptisms and weddings; prayed, wept and laughed together. It is one of the amazing and most awe-inspiring thing about being a vicar, that I am invited into your families and your lives at some of the most personal and emotional times, and invited to share those times with you and hold you in prayer.
As we turn to look at what lies ahead, it may help to give an outline of what you can expect to happen over the coming months. On June 12th the Archdeacon is meeting with both PCCs to discuss the recruitment process for a new Vicar. The PCCs will then need to prepare the Parish Profiles and Job Description, and will each appoint 2 parish representatives, who will be responsible for the interview process (apart from those 4 people, the process will be kept confidential until an announcement can be made). We would anticipate probably advertising the post in the autumn, and a new Vicar then being in post sometime in the first months of 2018. In the meantime the Churchwardens, Parish Administrator and Readers will ensure, with all of your help, that our mission and worship, our learning and teaching, our welcome and our outreach are maintained and developed over the period of vacancy. The whole people of God, not the Vicar, are the Body of Christ in this place: so there is no reason for the work of the church not to grow and flourish between as well as during incumbencies!
So please pray for the appointments process, for my family and I in this period of transition, for the people of the St Luke in the City Team in Liverpool, and for our Churchwardens, Readers and Administrator as they take on increased responsibilities in the months ahead. And God Bless you all.