As we get properly started on the URC programme, “Walking the Way,” the first thing we have to face is that our much-loved Associate Minister will be Walking the Way somewhere else ….. Wendy has been called to serve in the URC/Church of England pastorate in Five Oak Green and will be in church as our Associate Minister for the last time on Sunday March 11th.
Wendy has given us nine years of loving, inspiring, creative and generous ministry. She has led us in inspirational worship; offered deep spiritual counselling; provided warm pastoral care; connected our church with the local community and especially with Perry Hall School; led thought-provoking discussion sessions and offered wise guidance in Elders and Team Meetings. And this is just the short list - I have not even started on the ministry Wendy has offered to Churches Together in Orpington and to the URC at Area, Synod and National level. Each one of you will also have your own recollections of the ministry Wendy has offered to you and I know that you will be sure to tell Wendy yourselves just how much her work and personality have meant to you.
As mentioned in the February Newsletter, Wendy will be preaching and Celebrating Communion on 4th March and then, on 11th March, we shall be taking the opportunity to offer our thanks and appreciation to her during our Mothering Sunday Parade Service.
At the time of writing we do not have a date for Wendy’s Induction to the church in Five Oak Green but it is likely to be in May or early June so there will be time to publicise this in our April Newsletter.
It is not easy to say good-bye to someone who has made such a difference to our church life but Wendy believes and trusts that she is “walking the way” that God is calling her to walk and, as her Christian friends and comrades, we support her in faith and send her into this new chapter of ministry with our love and blessing.
And for ourselves? I have already been greatly encouraged by the creative suggestions of the Elders as to how the work of our church might be re-organised and deeply touched by the offers of extra help given by various people. We need to face the hard fact that we shall almost certainly not gain another Associate Minister. St John’s has been blessed with several such over the years but with a serious shortage of ordained Ministers nationwide, our Synod would, understandably, give other pastorates a far higher priority than us when considering placements for non-stipendiary ministers.
Back in July, the Church Meeting considered very briefly the possibility of employing some extra professional help of some kind for ourselves and you will know that the serious consideration of employing a youth and family worker will be the topic of discussion at our one hour Church Meeting on Sunday March 18th. Please give this meeting your highest possible priority. We may not decide that this is the way we want to go forward but in that case we need to discern a different way and, in our denomination, it is the whole church membership who determine the way in which their church moves forward.
We cannot do it without you!
With love and good wishes to you all,