So it’s February already and as yet I’ve managed not to go back to writing 2016 on my correspondence; that usually happens round about March. The beginning of every year gives us the opportunity to look back over the past year and to contemplate the future, to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly and to think about what we want to achieve in the coming year.
Our family will experience many different challenges and opportunities this year as Tony and I retire and return to our home. A house which is at the same time familiar, and yet very strange. Especially as other people have been living in it for 14 years and have put their own stamp on it.
Of course Methodist ministers don’t retire they ‘sit down’, which is a rather strange term – especially at this time when all the health professionals are telling us it’s important to keep moving! We all have to ask permission from Synod to ‘sit down’ and we’re expected to say a few words about our ministry. My superintendent in the Croydon circuit came to that meeting and said he had no intention whatsoever of sitting down, thank you very much, but instead he was going to get up and run, doing things he’d always wanted to do and hadn’t had the time. I like that idea. I wonder how difficult it would be to do something new every day?
A circuit minister’s life is very focused on a particular group of people and the church building in which they meet. What a privilege it is to walk with people, talk with people, sharing a little of their lives through good times and bad, through illness, bereavement and funerals. The special occasions like weddings, birthdays and anniversaries are always a joy and so individual. I’ve enjoyed my time at Wesley Hall and Forest Hill so much but by July it will be time to go – before you throw me out.
Reflecting on all this I feel a mixture of confusion and anticipation with a fair dollop of sadness. I will become a ‘supernumerary’, another strange term, which means ‘surplus to requirements’. I have come to the conclusion that the Methodist Church needs to rethink some of its terminology! When we start preaching we’re ‘on trial’, as new ministers were ‘on probation’ and eventually we are surplus to requirements and told to sit down (and possibly shut up, which could prove tricky in my case). Hmmm.
Having said all this I believe that God is in the decision that it’s time for me to go and I have no doubt that I’m doing the right thing for the churches and for my family. I believe that the Rev. Dee Yeadon, who will be joining you as your new minister in September, will be a joy and bring a new energy and perspective to your ministry at Wesley Hall. I’m very happy that I’ll be leaving you in good hands.
I intend to make the most of these next few months and the joy of our continued fellowship as we worship God together and think through what it means to be a Christian in this place called Sydenham.