The Pastoral letter from the Rector designate
My Dear Friends,
Firstly can I say on behalf of Gill, my wife, and myself how much we are looking forward to coming to live in Uckfield and how much we look forward to getting to know you all at the various churches and within the community.
I thought you may be interested to have a little bit of a potted history. I am a Shropshire lad, born and bred, moving to Sussex, from my home in Shrewsbury in 1983. This move was part of my exploration of God’s call to me. I lived a semi-monastic life whilst working at Chailey Heritage, a home for handicapped children, and serving the parish of St. Dunstan’s Mayfield. It was at Chailey that I met Gill; we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary last year. Gill has been working as a teaching assistant in the reception class for the past 6 years at St. John’s Church of England School, Eastbourne. Gill and I have four sons, and now a daughter in law and a granddaughter. Jamie is a teacher in a junior school in Eastleigh, Hampshire, Matthew (who will initially be moving with us) is a service advisor with Caffyns Audi, Eastbourne, Dominic has just completed his second year at Birmingham university where he is doing a BSC in Sports and Exercise Science and Philip, who was married to Shula last year, is working at Birchwood Ford in the parts department and they have given us our first grandchild who was born in early January this year.
Can I thank all who have made us feel so very welcome so far.
I know that to have been without an incumbent for two years puts added pressures on various people and it is right to thank all who have shouldered extra responsibilities in that time, particularly the clergy, readers and church wardens. But it is clear for all to see that there is a huge enthusiasm for the gospel and a readiness to look at the next stages of the life, ministry and mission of the churches in the plurality. The first
thing I want to do then is to affirm you. I am sure that in life, if you are like me, you will recognise that people are very quick to criticise but not so quick to give praise. In the various conversations I have had with the senior staff in the diocese since being appointed I have only heard really good things about Uckfield. You need to hear how well thought of you are and how strategically important you are, we are, to the mission of the diocese. Therefore, what I want to see is us exemplifying what a parish church should be, in its worship, in its social life, in its mission and ministry to all God’s people, reaching out and meeting people where they are and drawing them, we pray, ever closer to the Lord. I was really heartened in this when in the specifications for the new Rector it said; ‘someone who is willing to take risks for the Gospel’. In interview I asked if the parishes were willing to take those steps of faith also and was assured that they were. So I ask you to join me in praying that God might grant to us vision for the future that we might see the glory of his Kingdom and how we might share with him in ushering that Kingdom in, in Uckfield, Isfield and Little Horsted, and that he might bring to the fore the gifts and people that we will need to move forward on that journey – and remember – that might be you!
The service for my installation as Rector will be in Holy Cross on Monday 17th June at 7.00 p.m. with the Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner. I do hope that all of you, whether you come to church regularly or occasionally or perhaps never, will feel able to come and share in this next stage of the life of our churches and town and villages.
Your friend and priest.