As many Ministers do at this time of year we are sending out our annual letter to let people know how we are, and I thought I`d pop it on here (or at least the public parts of the letter) in case anyone was interested.
Yes it’s true, if you didn`t already know, we have moved yet again and this time to sunny Staffordshire. To the promised land of Burton, flowing with Marmite and Marston’s (beer).
Because of health issues (stress, mainly) which began to take its toll on Michael towards the end of last year it was felt important to curtail a very happy appointment in Borders Mission Circuit and seek out pastures new. Thanks to the often maligned Methodist Stationing system we found ourselves surrounded by packing cases in this brewing town, which is where Michael was Ordained 20 years ago!
We now live just about a mile from the town centre, within walking distance, half a mile from the railway station, 5 minutes’ walk from Michaels main church (St. Thomas’s) and most importantly of all only 20 minutes’ walk to the Pirelli Stadium home of Burton Albion FC.
Michael is still a Superintendent Presbyter but this time with responsibility to draw two Methodist circuits together to form the Trent and Dove Circuit. There are 16 churches of which Michael has pastoral responsibility directly for one and supervisory responsibility for a staff of 5. He also has responsibility for encouraging evangelism across the circuit and also for the Burton town centre to see what Methodism can contribute to the centre. The circuit comprises Burton to Uttoxeter so it covers quite a distance.
Of course such a move also required Alison to leave her joint Parish of Crich and South Wingfield where she was curate and as she wanted to remain in the Diocese of Derby (Burton is in Lichfield Diocese) we had an anxious time waiting to see what was possible. The Bishop, along with Graham the Rural Dean, found her a position in Emmanuel Church, Swadlincote (known locally as Swad.) and her new title is “Associate Curate to be known as Associate Priest in Repton deanery and Missioner for retired communities in the Repton deanery” Quite a mouthful but designed to build upon the experience of her work as a Chaplain in Maple Leaf Dementia care unit. Swad is only about 20 minutes from the house and it’s a good road to get there so travelling isn`t difficult. However, because Alison isn`t paid in her role she has kept her Chaplains work on at Maple Leaf House in Ripley (Methodist Home for the Aged)and that involves a journey of about 30 minutes each way. She attends three days a week, and continues to love the work. We`ll see how the winter affects the travelling.
Both in Burton and in Swad we have been warmly welcomed and made to feel as though we`re at home, and we look forward to many years here. They seem to be good folk here and there is the potential for growth.
Both of us continue to travel around with our work; Michael continues to run the Mission Shaped Ministry course and lead/teach about Fresh Expressions, evangelism etc. in different Churches and circuits (available for booking!). He was even honoured to be invited to write a piece on behalf of the National Fresh Expressions Website about the relationship between Superintendency and being a Fresh expressions practitioner. Alison continues to build up her knowledge of Dementia care and also now gives talks in different places about this and the work of MHA.
Thanks to the generosity of the Bishop of Derby and of Michaels former Circuit we are both going to Israel for a week long pilgrimage in January 2014 so all of our excitement is building towards that. Those of you who follow Michaels blog or either of us on Facebook will no doubt hear more of as it happens.
Michaels Dad, Charlie, continues to do well as does Alison`s Mum, Freda. Both are feeling the effects of having reached 85 years but Freda is as busy as ever and Charlie as mischievous as ever! Both remain in their own homes with good neighbours and good friends around them. As we write this we are getting ready for Freda who is spending Christmas with us, whilst Charlie is going to Michaels brother, Andrew and Cathy for Christmas.
The final member of the family, Sasha the dog, has also settled extremely well and has continued her daily duties of sleeping and eating as if no change has ever taken place! No change there.
We do hope that this letter finds you well and that you are in good health. May we wish you a very happy Christmas and all of the peace of the Christ child this season and into a very blessed 2014
Mike and Alison