As the saying goes: All good things must come to an end. This is my last magazine letter. By now, Lesley, Daniel and I will have moved to Hale and on Tuesday 3rd Sept at 7.30pm I will be installed in my new post. I hope that many of you will be able to be there at St Mary’s Church, Westbank, Widnes. Details will be in church.
It’s hard to believe that it was almost 7 years ago since we arrived here at St. Michael’s. That was December 2012. These years have seen huge changes both in the church and in the community. It’s a reminder that nothing really stays the same. The current is always moving. We are creatures of habit and we often find change uncomfortable. Some people like being a part of a parish church because they feel that in an ever-changing world it can provide and an anchor of stability; everything around might be changing but at least here things stay the same, as I remember them.
Of course if we really stop and think about that, we realise that this is not true.
In the time I have been here I’ve Baptised 191 people (children and some adults), taken over 200 funerals and married 23 couples, and each of those events in themselves bring about huge change in the lives of families and also in the church. When I look around the building at St. Michael’s I see so many new faces and lament those who are no longer with us, and even the building itself has seen changes.
But this is right and proper and good. The Christian Church should always be moving forward. It has to if it seeks to speak into the community it serves, aims to be the proclaimer of Good News, and looks to transform lives. Ultimately, Church should be a living organism – a point where heaven and earth meet, where the living God can be encountered and known. Church is not and should never be seen as, a ‘museum’ – a snapshot of a bygone time.
And of course, because of this constant change and movement, clergy come and go. We are simply travellers, sharing the journey with local churches but only for a while before moving on. This is also right and good, as each vicar, each curate, each minister brings with them their own gifts and character which helps the church move forward.
My time with you has come to an end. There are so many things I am grateful for – friendships forged, experiences which have helped me grow and learn, times of laughter (and some tears). I hope that our time with you has helped you in your journey with God both as individuals and as a Christian community. In time another minister will walk with you and things will change again.
I look forward to seeing how your future unfolds.
Remember that our Lord is always with you. He is never far away. He will always answer when you call and his love is eternal.
Garston will always hold a special place in our hearts and I will always hold you in my prayers.