This is the piece that I always knew I would have to write one day, from the moment I arrived in 2005. My official designation is Itinerant Presbyteral Minister. The ‘Itinerant’ bit is significant. That means it is expected that every so often we will move to another Circuit and we must be prepared to do that. Some Ministers however are less itinerant than others! I have been with you for 12 years and I sincerely hope I have not outstayed my welcome and beg your forgiveness if I have.
However I am not moving to another Circuit as an Itinerant Presbyteral Minister but, rather, I am, in the quaint language of Methodism, ‘sitting down’ and becoming ‘Supernumary’. In other words I am retiring. Rachel and I have already moved to Ouston, into County Durham, but not too far from the bright lights of Low Fell. July and August I guess are going to be the months of the Long Goodbye!
I don’t do ‘goodbyes’ very well; I much prefer ‘hello’. Part of saying ‘goodbye’ is also saying ‘thank you’, so I would like to take this opportunity in print to thank you all for your kindness and support over the last 12 years. These have been monumental years in my life when I and my family have experienced the deepest tragedy and the greatest happiness. Wesley has been the place where we have shed our tears and learned that it is possible to live and love again.
I want to thank each one of you for being the people you are. I love you all for being unique individuals. I have learned so much from getting to know you. My life is so much richer from the acquaintances, friendships and experiences that I have enjoyed at Wesley. Please accept my apologies if there have been times when you were expecting a visit from me and it never materialised. The incompleteness of trying (and failing) to fill multiple responsibilities weighs heavily on my shoulders.
But, now is the right time to move on. I am delighted that Rev Huw Sperring will be your Minister from 1st September. I have known Huw for many years, he is a good man, and will be an excellent Minister at Wesley. I trust you will make Huw, Hilary and their 3 children, Lucy, Harrison and Elle very welcome from the outset.
John Wesley’s last words were reputed to have been, ‘Best of all is, God is with us!’ As a last line that’s hard to beat.
Grace and Peace