Vicar's Letter - 18.07

   Vicar’s Letter – Following the Call

The news is out – we are moving on. At the end of August I will be leaving the lovely New Forest to take up a post as Associate Vicar at St Jude’s, Southsea in the Diocese of Portsmouth. This move is a response to God calling us to follow his path as both Debbie and I seek to use the gifts and talents he has given us to build his kingdom.

We have not been desperate to leave or in any way unhappy here, it has been such a privilege to work in these parishes in such a beautiful part of God’s creation. But after eleven years in Brockenhurst we inevitably had some thoughts about what my next job might be.

Shortly after Easter I happened to notice an advert for a post in Portsmouth, which seemed to have been written for me. The four areas of work to be done were mission, small groups, pastoral care and school, all places where I have focused my ministry while here and before we arrived. The church was St Jude’s, which we had heard of as the biggest evangelical church in the city where I was born. It is a place where I have many happy childhood memories and also the football team that we support.

So we went to meet with the vicar to find out more. There was the chance that they might be looking for someone younger with a family or that we would not be the right people for him to work with. But his vision for the church, which has already planted a new congregation into a previously closed church building, was exciting. So we felt that we had to apply and went along to the interview with three other candidates. In order to grow and expand the church there needs a bigger staff team and so my experience was seen as a helpful asset. We were very excited to be offered the post and we will be leaving here on August 26th to start in Southsea in the middle of September.

As associate vicar I will have less overall responsibility and more opportunity to work with people as well as sharing the load of the services. There will be many new challenges in a city parish and the chance to explore working in a new diocese. We have been really blessed to be allocated a house near to the beach along the seafront from the parish. It is only an hour away and we hope to keep in touch with friends here.

Obviously there is great sadness in moving on and leaving the people who have been so much a part of our lives for this last decade. There will be a gap before a new vicar is appointed but there is a good team in place to ensure that all continues until they arrive. We have already been planning and preparing for the time of transition.

My time here has seen many wonderful answers to prayer in the signs of the transformation that Jesus brings to the life of individuals and of a community. It has been with the support of so many that our churches have flourished and grown. Be sure that you will all continue to be in my prayers.

May God be with us all in this new chapter of life,                      Neil

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