It began with me feeling very apprehensive. Tonight was the Circuit farewell service, held at Swanwick Methodist Church. Would it all end up in tears, a round of slushy over sentimental meaningless clichés ? Not at all. It was the opposite and it was just what I needed. Yes I`m tired, emotionally drained, but feeling soooooo loved, affirmed and encouraged. It was absolutely brilliant; almost 200 people there. We laughed, shared, preached what I hope was a word of encouragement to “go on and do your best as a Circuit, as a Church and as a Christian” Never been so hugged as much by so many people; folk came not just from BMC, but also from the former Ripley and even from Erewash Valley Circuits. The District Evangelism Enabler (Roger Johnson) tried to be there but couldn’t, but it was lovely that he phoned to wish me well. Rev Tim Mitchell, an Anglican friend and a part of my MSM team, was at Soul Survivor and broke away from it to journey to be there and was travelling back afterwards. We had Salvation Army, Baptists and Anglicans. Pilsley Yoof group turned up and were their usual boisterous, irreverent selves (thank goodness), showing embarrassing videos and photos of me (see their website), youngsters from Ripley came along with purple hair and a special young couple asked me to baptise their baby who hasn`t yet been born and then in a few years time marry them (I dutifully reminded them that it was up to the Minister in post then).
It has been truly terrific night and I really feel that I am loved.; cards, gifts presents galore and even a wonderful gift for Alison in recognition of her love and support. Beautiful!
It’s after a night like this that you`re able to look back and begin to believe that you`re not such a bad Minister after all, that perhaps you`re style of Ministry is appropriate, that you have touched and shaped lives. Many spoke of how I`d been there in their moments of need and joy, others of how my preaching was challenging to them in moving their faith on, and some of how their youngsters were still connected to the Church because of my approach to them. This means a lot to me.
Photographs were taken but not by me and so I won’t be able to put them on here until later on, but as soon as I can I will.
Only two more “do`s” (each one smaller and more intimate) and then a week of packing, preparing and getting ready to leave.
Thank you Lord
Part of one of my cakes tonight. For some reason I`m struggling to get the whole picture in, but notice the Big Macs, the lego, the crocs and the waistcoat. It also contains my ipad, the Newcastle United logo and players names. It is a magnificent cake.