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The End is Near
And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain, sang Frank Sinatra. Well I hope it’s not the final curtain, but certainly the end of my time as also Priest in Charge of Nunthorpe is drawing to a close at the end of this month, when I step back and they prepare for the new ministry of Rev’d Tessa Stephens.
This year has been a very demanding one, but also a very enjoyable and rewarding one. I went into this situation firmly believing that the Parish had had a rough time not of their own making, and needed to be put back on an even keel. What better for them than slipping on that old pair of slippers from next door. I haven't done anything revolutionary in my time there - just tried to love them and show them that God loves them too - and I have received much love in return.
We have also reached out into the community with a welcome that has seen folks flocking back for Christenings and weddings, and hopefully the new Vicar can use some of that to help rebuild the younger end of the Church.
Given the extra demands in time and energy, you can’t do everything, and I am aware that there are things left undone that I ought to have done - both in Nunthorpe and back home at Great Ayton and Newton - but I have tried to keep as many plates spinning as possible, so my apologies if it is yours wobbling or fallen.
My experience at Nunthorpe has reinforced the belief in me that we need first and foremost to be a welcoming congregation if we want our Churches to grow, and we have to meet people where they are, for many don’t understand where we are coming from. We have many traditions which we treasure, and newcomers may come to value them too over time, but maybe not understand them straightaway - so we need to be flexible, loving and patient.
Most importantly we also need to be there, present in worship, in order that we may be an encouragement to others. This month sees the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, sometimes called Candlemas. An old couple, Simeon and Anna were there and said such wonderful words of encouragement to Mary and Joseph about their son that they were remembered, repeated and written down. How many people come, and then don’t come again in our Churches, because we weren’t there to be a Simeon or Anna for them, and welcome and encourage them? Last year saw us lose many faithful members of Christ Church who did reach out to others, so lets make sure we pick up where they left off continuing to make our Churches places of welcome and worship. Paul