Gary's Pastoral Letter
Sitting at my desk putting together my final pastoral letter before “I sit down,” the term we use for minister’s ending their stipendiary ministry, brings with it an inevitable sense of looking back. The last four years have brought with them both their joys and their challenges, as no doubt everybody experiences in their working life. These four years have gone very quickly. We can look back with a genuine sense of thanksgiving for the many wonderful people working tirelessly in the churches doing God’s work. Some of those people are now part of that “glorious company of the saints in light.” But they have left to all of us an enduring legacy which will not be lost or forgotten.
For each of us, ordained and lay, ministry does not actually come to an end unless we consciously decide we are no longer engaging in Christ’s service, which I’m sure will not be the case. For Debbie and me moving to a new circuit (North Shields and Whitley Bay) means we will still be seeking to discern what God might be calling us to do, albeit in a different capacity and situation. So there is still some excitement ahead. But I’m sure He will not mind if we take some time to “chill out” first of all. Initially we are looking forward to spending more time with our two lovely grandchildren.
Most importantly, for all of you, this is a time not for looking back but for looking forward to what there is yet to be. The huge impact of Covid 19 on the life of the churches will mean an even greater deal of thought, time and prayer needs to go into mapping the way forward. It will require renewed vigour, energy and creativity, but God will be with you through His Holy Spirit when you keep Christ at the centre, and will bless your endeavours. I’m sure you will have an excellent new minister in the Rev. Ken McNally. Ken made a very positive impact on us when he first visited in January with his wife, Lyndsay. He will bring his own valuable gifts, experience and insights. I know you will receive them well and support them as a couple. I’m also sure they will enjoy the beauties and benefits of living in such a lovely area as Saddleworth, so allow them a bit of space.
So then, God bless you in the days ahead, and may He pour out the riches of His goodness and grace upon you all.