So who is this…? Well this is the new face behind the Vicarage door, and by the time you read this also the face most often ‘up front’ in St Oswald’s Church and ‘popping up’ in all sorts of other places, as I am out and about in your village. So now you have sort of seen me, let me tell you a little about myself.
After spending my childhood in Lincolnshire, moving to Nottinghamshire in my teens, and venturing into Yorkshire as a student, I have spent 23 of the last 30 years in some part, or other, of Yorkshire. I like to think that counts for something! I have also spent those same 30 years in some form, or other, of Christian ministry.
My student years began at the College of Ripon and York, St John, and were followed by a further period of training for ministry at Lincoln Theological College. The years since have been privileged ones as I have been invited to share the lives, experiences, joys and sorrows of those amongst whom I have served. The contexts have been varied (Middleton in South Leeds; Wetherby, just up the road; Kirkstall in West Leeds; a University College back in Lincoln; and most recently Manston & Cross Gates in East Leeds.)
One of the gifts of our humanity, is that we carry with us our stories. We have the capacity to remember, to hold, and to recall our past. Many of us delight in the opportunity to share our stories with others, and many of us also delight in hearing the stories which others bring.
November is traditionally a month associated with ‘Remembering’ – the remembering of All Saints and All Souls, when we hold in our hearts and before God those whose presence has lit up the world and our own lives; the remembering of the 5th of November, with its bonfires and fireworks; the remembering of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, a season for valuing each and every life lost in conflict and for renewing our hope in a world where peace and justice may yet flourish.
At the heart of these seasonal moments are the stories of people – their lives, experiences, joys and sorrows. Some of those stories evoke delight, others compassion. I also believe that all of those stories are heard and cherished by God.
My own story is starting a new chapter as I step out into my new role as Priest in Charge of Collingham with Harewood, and Spofforth with Kirk Deighton, Follifoot and Little Ribston. I very much look forward to meeting you, hearing your stories and making some new memories together in the seasons which lie ahead.
So if you see this face out and about – do say ‘hello’!