As many of you know this will be a year of change for me and for the Hermitage Team as I shall be retiring as Team Rector at the end of April; clergy are required to retire at 70 and I am not quite there yet but this is the right time for me. Perhaps only the doctrine of the Trinity is more puzzling to parishioners than the way in which the Church of England handles vacancies – so here is a brief explanation of the vacancy procedure, not the mystery of the Trinity! In January the process of consultation started with churchwardens, PCCs and Team Council members and Revd Luci Morriss is co-ordinating that with plenty of advice and support from our Area Dean – Revd Mark Bennet, our Parish Development Advisor – Revd Catharine Morris, Bishop Andrew and Venerable Olivia Graham, the Archdeacon. Together they will compile a Parish Profile for all the Team churches, a job description and a person specification for the post of Team Rector. This is not just an administrative task, it is also importantly a matter of prayer and discernment about the needs of our communities in the future years. “More of the same” is not the answer, because that is to look back to the past rather than plan and build for the future. Once all that work is done there will be advertising the post, interviews and recruitment – how long will that whole process take? as long as it needs to for the right person to be appointed. In the meantime our excellent Team of clergy and lay ministers will ensure that Sunday and weekday services happen, and that people can be married, buried and baptised, and work in local schools maintained.
During a vacancy a great deal is asked of our churchwardens, lay ministers and PCC members and it is very important that they do not find themselves overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and considered – they are all working in the church as volunteers and have busy work and family lives. We have a number of practical tasks with which we need some help in Holy Trinity and you will find a section titled ‘Can you give some help?’ further on in this magazine (page 10), please do not turn the page when you come to it.
Quite helpfully in parallel with what the parishes will be doing is the preparation that Christopher and I personally are involved in; we have a house in Wash Common in which we have had tenants during my thirteen years in stipendiary ministry and we are making detailed plans for the future there – some work in the house and the garden to create the home we want for our future years, not to put things back to exactly where they were when we moved out! We have experts – plumber, builder, carpenter and tree surgeon – to advise and assist us, just as the people of the Hermitage Team have Bishop Andrew and senior clergy to help you, and the pattern of open discussion, careful listening, a shared vision for the task and mutual trust is equally important in both situations to achieve the desired outcome. Have I just compared our wonderful Area Bishop to a plumber? Retirement is obviously a necessary step! So all round there are things that need to be changed, restyled, refreshed and new ideas to be embraced; it may be a job description in one place and a decision about tiles and carpets in the other, but altogether the watchwords should be careful consideration and excitement at new possibilities.
This year Ash Wednesday falls on 1 st March and the start of the season of Lent is a good time to look at our priorities, our life balance and our faith expressed in words and actions. You will find information about the Lent Course that will be offered in the Team and about other opportunities for reflection and study; I hope that something there will engage your interest.
God has for us a preferred and promised future, rooted in his love and mercy; change is a means of growth and new life; let us welcome 2017 with confidence and work together to hear God’s will for us all.
with love and prayers