A new step
The Rectory, March 1999
Many of you will be aware by now that I announced at the end of January that I shall be leaving St Peters at Easter. It was not possible to announce this in the magazine until the Sunday congregations had been informed. The last fourteen years have been the most exciting and enjoyable years in my thirty years of ministry. I am aware of my good fortune in having had the opportunity to live and work with such a community and in such a setting as St Peters. St Peters is full of the warmest people who exercise a great deal of mutual care, understanding and where necessary tolerance. It is not so in all Christian communities. You can imagine then that it is with very mixed feelings that I contemplate leaving.
I have loved at St Peters the range of our community, people of differing backgrounds, whose journeys of faith are often very different but who bring insights and truths, struggles and questions which strengthen us all. I have loved the warm, open and accepting spirit that is more concerned to understand than to judge, to support rather than condemn. I have loved the questioning spirit of many of you, wanting to explore faith, risking being heretical and yet concerned in the end to know and worship God in both his mystery and awe and in the intimacy of his divine humility. Worship is at the heart of St Peters and I have appreciated the care and attention given to it by the musicians and also by those who read and those who lead our prayers and those who sit in quiet before the service and pray. Someone who attends our services occasionally wrote to me not long ago to say:
Its what Id like to believe is true of our worship.
I have loved the opportunities for a rich and very diverse ministry that St Peters unique location in the city provides opportunity for. There are always more ideas and possibilities than we are able to tackle and one can be left with a feeling that we could do more but I am aware of reminding myself that it is not all up to us! I have always been grateful too that The Park roots us in a more normal parish life. I am aware of having been blessed with exceptional colleagues, clerical and lay, who have enjoyed each other and I think made an harmonious team - unless theres something they have not told me! The gifts and willing involvement of so many people is one of the most impressive features of life at St Peters and it has been wonderful to see that grow and develop. I have a great senses of privilege and gratitude for these fourteen years. We are a pilgrim church and God leads us all into a new future. After fourteen years it is perhaps a time to reflect and listen and be open to God and to new things, new emphases, new depth, new ways of being a community, into which God may want to draw St Peters. It seems to me that it is a good time to let someone new come alongside you and lead you in the important ministry that St Peters will continue to have.
As most of you will know a tremendous opportunity has arisen for George. She has been appointed Director of Studies for the North East Oecumenical Course which is a non-residential training course for clergy. She takes up her appointment soon after Easter, and Easter Day will be our last Sunday at St Peters. The course draws students from the dioceses of Newcastle, Durham, Ripon and York and it is a requirement of her post that George is based in the Diocese of York. We are hoping to live in Northallerton in North Yorkshire not far from the area I grew up in. At the moment my own future is unclear. I will take a couple of months to catch up with myself after a very busy year when the M&S project has seemed to take over my life! So we go forward trusting in God and not trying to fix the future. I know it is right to take one step at a time and not try to manipulate or outrun the Holy Spirit. We will both miss St Peters enormously. Our meeting and marrying amongst you means you will always be part of us.
This is I believe an exciting new step for St Peters, as well as for George and me. Pray for us and for Eileen and Wally, for Alison and Lina, and for the Standing Committee as they guide St Peters over the next months.