On the 1st October we said a fond farewell to Revd Christine and Stephen to enjoy their retirement. This is her final letter from the magazine.
Recently, I helped on a Diocesan Cursillo weekend at Launde Abbey. The Spanish word, Cursillo, means 'short course'. The course is designed for active Christians who would like to deepend their relationship with God and explore the ways in which God is calling them to live out their Christian faith. The participants are referred to as Pilgrims. The Cursillo international movement begain in Spain and was inspired by the tradition of making a pilgrimage along the Camino to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela. On this trail, by way of encouragement, it is traditional to call out to fellow pilgrims, ULTREYA! which means 'onwards and upwards' or 'keep going'.
I would like to call out to you all ULTREYA! - keep going, onwards and upwards! Over the past five years, as your parish priest, it has been an honour and a joy to walk with you on your pilgrimage of faith and discipleship. I have been heartened by the way people have been prepared to move out of their comfort zones and help with events suich as Experience Harvest, Messy Church and Little Frogs. Many people have supported those who have organised Flower Festivals, the Christmas Tree Festival, and celebrations such as the Queen's 90th birthday and our Patronal Festival. I has been exciting to see the mums of our Little Frogs first become friends, then meet together to discuss their faith, and then to serve the community by organising the Roots Project. I am also so pleased that there is a Men's Group that meets monthly for breakfast and to pursue various practical projects. I've been encouraged by people's confidence in raising large amounts of money to fund the servery (do you remember how we used to make coffee in church and the horrible disposable mugs!) and the refurbishment of the Church Hall (just the kitchen left to tackle). These two intiatives have made it so much easier to offer hopistality.
Back to the idea of pilgrims - if we are to be effective travellers we need to be well fed. The many cakes that are produced by members of the Social Committee and others for special occasions have supported our bodily needs, but our spiritual needs have needed noursihment too - our various house groups, and the Lent courses have helped with that. At least a third of our congregation have attended some of these over recent years.
Sadly, a number of our regular worshiping community have reached the end of their earthly pilgrimage and arrived at the Heavenly City, and we miss them, but we have seen a steady trickle of new people join us as pilgrims, which has enriched our worshipping community. It is with sadness that I now say good-bye to you and I will miss you all very much. I can't thank you enough for the welcome, support and love you have shown me over the past five years. I am confident that during the interregnum you will be well served by the Ministry Team, Revd Ray, Revd John, Carol, Val and Shirley.
I am also excited for you - Revd Michelle Cotton, in addition to being Vicar of St Andrew's, will be joining you in May as your Priest in Charge. she is an inspirational priest and has achieved amazing things at St Andrew's. She will bring fresh ideas to enhance the PCC's Growth Action Plan and will lead you further along your pilgrimage jounrey. I am confident that you will extend a friendly and warm welcome to her. So be sexcited, look forward to the future with optimism and greet each other with the cry: ULTREYA!
I wish you God’s blessing ~
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