This is my final letter to you in my role as Minister of St Andrew’s. It is over ten years since I was inducted to the church and they have been ten very happy and fulfilling years for me. It is the longest term I have served in a pastorate or held a secular post and I am glad that it has been so – the best has been saved until last! It is with more than a tinge of sadness that I leave St Andrew’s, but ten years is a long time and it really is the right time for me to retire. I shall take with me many happy memories of life at St Andrew’s.
I know that as a congregation you are blessed with many talents and I encourage you to use them together for the benefit of the church. It is a great blessing that among your number there are so many Lay Preachers, Junior Church Leaders, Elders, Pastoral Carers and Administrators. Major changes can present big challenges, particularly when they follow a long period of stability, but I am certain that you are equipped through the power of the Holy Spirit to meet the challenges that the future will bring.
In preparation for the move from the Manse to our house in Newcastle we have been sorting through drawers and cupboards rediscovering all manner of possessions including mementos from my ministry with the North West Durham Group of churches which included a photo album. It is good to have such graphic reminders of friends from the past, particularly since we shall be leading worship in at least one of the churches in the Group next year. I feel sure that over the coming years we shall be looking through mementos we have gathered during our time at St Andrew’s, remembering you with equal affection.
It is good to look back over the past. We can be nourished by memories of good times and learn wisdom through reflecting on sad and difficult times. But of course we need to live in the present and move forward confidently into the future knowing that God is always with us. I pray that you will feel that reassuring grace and that God will bless you all in the years to come. May God bless the leadership and mission of St Andrew’s Church and Centre, and bless the Ordained Ministers that are called to serve with you.
Yours in Christ.