County Shows have been a feature of my ministry for the past thirty two years, so that would seem a fitting end on which to retire.
Like many people across the country here in Staffordshire we were affected by the snow in early December. I was due to take the Service and preach at St Anne’s, Brown Edge, but decided it was too risky.
However I did make a trip to London for the National Missioners Gathering & Lunch. We had some short presentations that were very encouraging. These included ‘Mission Academies’ part of HOPE18. We also had an update from Roy Crowne on HOPE18 with some great stories coming back after folk had distributed the ‘Christmas Hope’ magazine around their area both rural and urban. https://www.hopetogether.org.uk/ William Nye who is the General Secretary for the Archbishop’s Council enthused about the structural changes in the CofE with a greater emphasis on mission, Church growth and making Jesus known. We had an update from Nick Shepherd, the newly appointed director for ‘Setting God's People Free,’ and who will be leading on Discipleship in the new Evangelism and Discipleship department.
For the Report see…
I also ventured out to spend some time with Janet Arnold, a Priest and Church Army Officer recently appointed to St James,’ Newchapel. We have scheduled in several dates to help the Church review its programme, particularly focusing on evangelism and also to create a MAP.
I had another great Review Meeting with my line manager, George Fisher who is so supportive and full of encouragment.
Another London trip, but this time to talk about housing in retirement, including housing provided by the Church of England. The big question – do we rent or do we try and buy? And then ‘where?’
Carol Service in HMP Stafford – what an amazing talented group of people they have in the prison. A fantastic choir and a funky rock band who had written their own Christmass song as well as offering some very upbeat rendition of some of the classics. We now have four members of the Stafford Prison Fellowship and hope to grow this and develop an increasing level of support for ministry in prison. It would also be good to see a more coordinated effort by the various churches currently doing ‘their thing’ in the prison. Prison Alpha is one of the initiatives that does bring the Churches together in their engagement. www.prisonfellowship.org.uk
Carol Singing around the Wards – was great fun as around eighteen us in two group went around the Wards at Stafford General and sang carols. It brought some tears, many smiles and was much appreciated by all.
Check out the dedicated Facebook Page - NHS Prayer Partners
We said farewell to our Curate Becky Richards on Christmass Day. She has been appointed to six parishes in her home setting of Cheswardine
The year ended with Church@4 at St John’s with a time of worship, prayer stations/crafts and food with the Methodist Covenant Prayer as a focus to take us into 2018. I really liked this presentation of steps we can take as we enter into a New Year - I took the 'Greatest Step' 42 years ago making a New Years Resolution to become a Christian!
Meeting with Alan Betts to discuss presentation of ‘Frontline Discipleship’ course (one year) to St Lawrence Biddulph. (LICC) 1
Monday 8th – Wednesday 17th Holiday
FCN Staffordshire Group meeting and in particular getting to grips with new recording system so that we can be compliant with new GPDR legilsation.
A trip to Rugby to pick up HOPE18 resources.
Leading (along with Celebrant) Holy Communion at St John’s, Littleworth. I am also Leading and Preaching Morning Prayer (BCP) at St John the Baptist, Tixall. (Part of the United Benefice) In the evening there is a major ‘Love Stafford Celebration’ when Stafford Churches come together. Alongside the celebration there is a ‘Mission Market’ and I have both a Church Army stall and a HOPE18 stall (side by side!)
As Spiritual Companion – JC is visiting me in the morning. Lunch time ‘Chew & Chat’ at Rising Brook Baptist.
Personal Quiet Day at The Hermitage
As Spiritual Companion – JM is visting me.
Hospital Chaplains Meal (I am a Locum Chaplain for Stafford General)
Joining the Lancashire FCN Group for a Reflective Extended Lunch at Whaley Abbey
Preaching at HMP Stafford on the Feast of the Presentation
Stafford Group of the Prison Fellowship meet for Prayer & Update
Meeting with my own Spiritual Companion
Rural Mission Team meeting. Making plans to set up two ‘Conversation & Consultations’ days in June 2018. We are really trying to beef up our Rural Mission presence and have recently set up a dedicated Facebook Page.
We also have the ‘Mission Team’ New Year Lunch following the mornings meeting. 1 In the evening it is the first of our Presentations for Frontline Discipleship at St Lawrence, Biddulph – Preaching for the Frontline.
Jane is very much involved with St John’s and even more so with the Vacancy. Our Rector left us in August, our Curate in December and we have recently heard that one of our Readers is also retiring leaving us very understaffed. We do have a Youth & Children’s Minister at St John’s, Cathy Short. Please can you pray for our Churchwardens – Littleworth, Dave Blake and Ann Scott, Ingestre, Sue Haenelt, and Tony Stubbs, Tixall, Anne Andrews and Robert Collier. Our next Rector Interview date is set for the 16th March.
There are also big changes as Jane and I settle down to life without Tabitha living with us. Since the Wedding in November life has been a tad manic so ‘ordinary life’ has not yet settled in. As we move into the year I will need to be canny about succession issues and making preparations for retirement. Plus we have our house in Cornwall to sell and make some decisions on our retirement home. (And ‘dispose’ of the Church Army Mission Caravan along with other resources.)