From the Rectory
For Sarah and myself, our last Sunday in the parish will be 21 May 2023. Shortly after that we’ll be moving to live in Radley just outside Oxford, where we’ve bought a house. Pastoral ministry has been a whole way of life for Sarah and myself.
The journey began 41 years ago when in 1982 I was ordained in the Scottish Episcopal Church. After 2 years as the precentor of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth, we moved to Edinburgh where I was the chaplain at St Mary’s Cathedral for a further 4 years. Serving two curacies lasting a total of 6 years was a wonderful foundation for being a vicar, but it is a luxury the church can no longer afford.
I’ve now served as a vicar in the Church of England for 35 years, for just over 6 years as rector of three villages, Hardwick, Toft and Caldecote with Childerley in the diocese of Ely, then for 12 years as vicar of the Church of the Good Shepherd Arbury in Cambridge, before moving here in autumn 2006.
After that length of time in pastoral ministry, stepping back from it is an enormous adjustment for Sarah and myself; and our leaving will be a significant adjustment for the parish too. Many people find it difficult to understand why I can’t tell you who my successor will be or when they’ll be taking over from me. Work will need to be done on the Rectory and that may further hold things up.
But the important work is for the parish to get us out of its blood stream, to get used to life without us being around, to find the time and the space to think who the parish wants as the next vicar of Rose Hill, Donnington and Iffley village, what gifts, skills and interests they might bring, and what direction the next phase of parish life might take.
All this takes time and we are a world in a hurry. But St Mary’s has been here since 1160 and the list of vicars at the back of St Mary’s gives a helpful sense of perspective on whatever our current preoccupations are. Vacancies can last as long as a year and there will certainly be frustrations during that time, but it needn’t be seen as time wasted; there’s work to be done.
Our years here have been the happiest and most fulfilling period of my time in pastoral ministry. All I ever felt called to be was a parish priest, and gradually over the years I hope I’ve become a better one – the longer I’ve gone on, the longer we’ve stayed – 2, 4, 6, 12 16 years! I think it takes time to grow into the way of life of a vicar and stepping back from it is not at all easy.
So, please pray for Sarah and myself as we do for you, so that we can all look to the future with confidence and hope in God’s purposes for us.