Hello my friends,
I am sitting writing this on the 20th January in a room piled high with boxes, our house in in total chaos and a trip from one room to another feels like an obstacles course. Why? Well because in less than two days we are moving and so we are in full ‘packing mode’. Maybe I should back up a bit and explain.
Angie, the boys and I have now been part of the Churches4all Mission Community for five years, we first came here before I was ordained and, in my training, at that point we were living just down the road at Crannaford, then just over two years ago the Diocese found a house for us in Whimple and we moved to The Old Goods Yard, in Station Road. Since then, our family has grown to include our two dogs: Thor and Lola; and a few weeks ago, Angie’s Mum, ‘Nanny’.
In February last year my boss, Rev Chris Martin moved on to a new role in another Diocese and I finished my training that summer; it is usually at this point during a priest’s ‘curacy’ they start looking for a new post in another set of parishes somewhere and that is what I had always imagined I would be doing as in this diocese it is generally not encouraged for curates to stay to lead parishes they have trained in.
However, God is seems had other plans!
As many of you will no doubt know our parish is part of four in the Churches4all Mission Community, but we are currently consulting on this group increasing to nine; the others being Cranbrook, Broadclyst, Rockbeare, Clyst Honiton and Sowton. If the consultation goes favourably this new ‘mission community’ will probably become a legal entity in March or April of this year. The process of amalgamating the groups is complex and will probably take a while; each parish is unique and will have its own particular style of church, challenges and opportunities, part of the time required to make this work is simply getting to know each of the churches, congregations and parochial church councils. For a new priest in charge to be selected to oversee this process would require them beginning this process of familiarisation from scratch.
However, I have already been working with our existing four parishes for five years and before that spent several years based in the across the other parishes which are about to join us, I also know both of the other ministers in those parishes; in light of this the senior leadership team at the diocese felt I was well placed to oversee the formation of the new group and I was asked if I wished to apply for the vacant role of priest in charge. So, in mid-January I had the rather odd experience of being interviewed by, among others, the wardens of the churches I have served for five years for the post along with Bishop Jackie and Archdeacon Andrew. I am delighted to say they agreed I was the right person for the job and last week I was officially ‘licensed’.
In effect this means you are all stuck with me for another few years!
On the 22nd of January, Angie, Nanny, the boys, the dogs, and I will be moving about one hundred and fifty yards from our current home to the Rectory in Grove Road.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all of our family to say a huge ‘thankyou’ to all of you. Our time here so far has certainly been a roller coaster ride and finishing my training as the sole full-time priest in the community whilst we entered this pandemic has been ‘challenging’ to say the least, but it is you, the people of this parish and my other parishes, who have made it a positive and uplifting experience. It is all of you, who during the darkest times have helped inspire and encourage us to keep moving forward with the acts of random kindness, the outpouring of compassion and the simple but amazing selflessness. You have been inspirational! It is because of the people is these parishes that our family decided we wanted to stay here to make this new project work.
You may come to church or you may not, you may have a faith, or you may not, but whoever you are I am here to serve you as best I can. I have no idea what the next few years will bring but I look forward to the honour and privilege of continuing to serve you all as your parish priest whoever you are and whatever you believe.
God bless my friends.