It feels strange to be writing my ‘last letter’ for the parish magazine, but life at the moment is inevitably a string of ‘lasts’. In some ways it still doesn’t seem quite real that we are moving away from Wrecclesham after more than 12 years here, and that my line on the Vicar’s Board in St Peter’s will soon read 2005 – 2017!
What to say in these ‘last words’? No pearls of wisdom, I’m afraid, but rather just a heartfelt thank you. Thank you for being such a great community to be part of. Thank you to all of you for the role you have had in making this such a happy and fulfilling time for me and my family. It has been a real privilege to be vicar here, and to be able to share in the lives of so many of you.
But vicars come and vicars go! And the work of the church carries on; God’s ministry in our community carries on. In due course the next vicar will be appointed and come to join you. People sometimes ask why the church doesn’t organise succession planning better, why is there always a gap between vicars? I think that gap, the ‘vacancy’, is really important; there needs to be a period of time for you, the St Peter’s and wider community, to reflect on where you are and where God is leading you. This in turn enables a picture to emerge of the kind of person that your next vicar might be. All of this must, of course, be surrounded by prayer, that it might be a real process of discernment, seeking God’s will for God’s church here.
I will, of course, be praying for you over the next few months (and beyond). And I would ask you please to pray for me as I move to Wells to take up my new post. The role of archdeacon will be a challenging one, but it is a challenge I’m very much looking forward to. I will work as part of the Bishop of Bath and Wells’ senior staff team, and will have particular responsibility for a geographical area, my archdeaconry, which is roughly the middle third of Somerset. I will be working with parishes, chaplaincies and schools across that area to support and encourage them in their living out of the gospel. The other part of my role is as a Residentiary Canon at Wells Cathedral. Wells is a beautiful and historic cathedral with a superb musical life, and it will be a huge privilege to be involved in the life of the community there.
St Peter’s will always be part of me, and all I can say, once again, is thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be your vicar over these years, and thank you for your friendship, love and support.
To God alone be the glory, now and for ever.
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