Last Month's Vicar's Letter

Dear Friends

This is an adaptation of the letter published in Beacon Light last month.

Over the last several months, you may well have noticed that I have been reminding people quite often that I’m already 67 years of age. In fact, I shall be 68 in January. I know many of you are going to tell me that I don’t look it, but I have to tell you that I’m beginning to feel it!

It is for this reason that I shall be retiring at the end of this year. My last service will be on Sunday the 31st December. As it’s a fifth Sunday and also the Sunday after Christmas, that will be a Benefice Service in Painswick at 10.00am as usual.

The Churchwardens have been aware of this for a couple of months now and have given thought to how services across the benefice might work without a full-time priest. There will have to be some changes to our rotas and we’ll explain about those later. But one thing you will see will be more laypeople helping with running worship. This is no bad thing; leading worship is not something that should be left only to clergy.

I know I have only been with you for four years but we have come quite a long way in that time. For example, we are a bit happier about coming together as a benefice from time to time. The Mission Team is now established and will continue to work on a number of initiatives to help us reach out to people who’ve not yet realised that God not only exists but that he loves them. The Painswick Feast has provided a fantastic context for their traditional Clypping service so that far more people from the community now gather for it. And, by no means least, we’ve found ways to encourage more and more people to pray regularly and make so much more of their relationship with God. I know God has great plans for you all – so watch out for more!

One thing just to add here – please don’t assume nothing can happen during the coming vacancy. Having no Vicar in place is no reason for going into hibernation! God will still be calling people to come to him; the Churches still need to help people hear that call. So keep praying and thinking about how our Churches can grow and reach out into our communities – and don’t be frightened of changing things so God’s love can be shown more clearly.

Although Margaret and I will be moving away from the benefice, we’re not going far. We are staying in Gloucestershire and are in the process of buying a house in Winchcombe. From there we’re in relatively easy reach of our sons, Jon and Tim. And we’re also in easy reach of all of you, so perhaps we’ll pop in and annoy you from time to time!

Finally, please remember that the rest of the Ministers’ team and the Churchwardens will be under more pressure during the vacancy and they will need your support – please pray for them and do what you can to help.

With my love and prayers

Rev Mike

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