Sunday, July 21, 2013
After two years in Leeds, working at the University and being a part of the parish of St Wilfrid's Calverley, I felt it was time to move on.
As I prayed and talked the possibilities through, it became clear that the ideal would be a move back to the Oxford area, and to finding a good community in which to serve and help develop church life.
I am looking forward to moving to the benefice of Steeple Aston with North Aston and Tackley in early September. The induction date has been set for September 11th, though the exact details of my leaving Leeds have yet to be finalised with the University. The three villages all have their own character, and it will take a while for me to get to know them and enjoy their variety, but I am ready for the challenge and to giving them my all.
This blog used to carry a strap-line: My job is to worship God, his job is to grow the church. I think I'll put that back up soon! People occasionally think a rector can be a magical solution to all sorts of problems; well I am no-one's magical solution. But we have better than magic to offer - we have God with us. So I'll do my job of worshipping him, and know that he will do his work of blessing and healing and comforting and growing his people as he will.
A personal word: churches usually have interregnums between vicars - they offer a period where a congregation can let go emotionally of what has gone before, where they can reflect on what was terrific and what needed to be learned from, and where they can begin to prepare for the future. I guess I have been privileged to have had a personal interregnum over the last two years.
Working as part of the alumni & development team at Leeds has given me personal space to let go of Pontypridd, to reflect at length on that time, and to start to look ahead. More than that, I have worked with some superb colleagues who have offered me real insights into different working methods and academic disciplines. Plus, I have made some great friends, whom I trust will remain friends as I now move on to the next stage of my journey.
I hope I have added value to that team, as this time has added enormously to me. We should all live so that life enlarges us; that's certainly true of this time for me.
Not forgetting Calverley. I came here 'by accident'. Yet in the congregation of St Wilfrid's I found another blessing, an unexpected bonus, a surprising joy. I saw one vicar retire, helped through the vacancy, and now I am having the enormous pleasure of watching a new vicar start to set his mark upon the church with gentle skill and insight. It's just a joy to be part of this parish, and I will leave with great gratitude.
The turnaround will be quite quick. There's a house to be left and another to be moved into. Yes - this is a picture of the rectory I inherit, I know some of you want to see this! - lots of practical things and I am already genuinely humbled by the welcome I am receiving from Oxford diocese and from all the wardens in the benefice.
And above all, there's a terrific sense of the One who has led me all these years leading me on from here. His hand has guided, and holds me when I fall, when I run, when I leap for joy or sit silent in sorrow. He guides me still.
Please pray for me over the next few weeks, and please feel free to come see me in the new place from September on.