Friday 10 May 2013

This was my last article for the Pioneer magazine, the issue currently in circulation. Please note that my Farewell Service is on Sunday 2 June at 6.30pm. It would be great to see you there if you can possibly make it.

A Sad Announcement

I am writing this article the day after announcing at St Matthew's that some time this summer I will move on to be vicar of the parish of Horton and Wraysbury, near London. I am putting my announcement in the Pioneer because I know I have many friends out in the community as well as in church.

It's eleven years since Elisa and I arrived in Walsall. Our youngest, Ben, started at Blue Coat Juniors when we arrived and he's 19 now and doing a gap year in Bolivia! All sorts of wonderful things have happened during our time at St Matthew's. 

·        We started St Matthew's Asian Congregation for Punjabi Christians, which now has a worldwide reach through its broadcasting and internet ministries

·        We have restructured and produced a highly motivated and effective team with a wonderfully positive attitude and a great group spirit

·        We had a massive project on our church hall and re-opened as the St Matthew's Centre, which is doing some amazing work in the community.

·        Family and Children's Work has really taken off since the appointment in 2010 of Liz Burley, our Family and Children's Worker. Messy Church, the holiday club and the school clubs are amazing!

·        We have rebranded St Matthew's through an overhaul of the website, logos, and first class promotional material.

·        We have emphasised ministry to and by young people through Church Hill Praise, outreach through Alpha and other courses, schools work in partnership with the three Blue Coat schools.

But most of all, we have seen God at work – healings, answered prayers, enriching encounters with God in our worship week by week, people coming to faith through the life-changing news that God loves them, people growing personally as God moves in their lives…

None of these are my achievements as vicar. They are our achievements as God's family together. I am in awe of my congregation: they are so full of warmth, enthusiasm, passion, energy, determination, love, faith and fun and Elisa and I are going to miss them all terribly. I feel the time is right, for them as well as for me, for St Matthew's to have a new vicar, to get some fresh vision and energy, and see where God will take us in the next part of His plan. I am sure it will be amazing.

People of Walsall, you have a great resource up there on the hill top at St Matthew's Church. Don't waste it! Make good use of it! Enjoy it! Surprise yourself and get involved! Or as the Bible puts it, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." You will be glad you did.

God bless you and thank you for everything!

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