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Dear Friends ...

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

As I sit down to write this, we still have George and his family with us, but by the time you read it we will be in a Vacancy.

I remember the first time this happened while I was worshipping at Reigate Park. David Owen had finished the service in the usual way when he invited his wife, Margaret, onto the dais and announced that he would be moving to Wales and leaving Reigate. It felt very strange. I had never encountered this happening before in the other churches in which I had worshipped.

Being an Elder, I knew in advance that David Skitt was going to leave so it was not such a shock, and I remember his last day at Reigate as it was the same day that my first grandchild (now thirteen) was born. And, of course, the same applied when George announced that he would be heading for Thames North. It was sad but not a shock.

So now, back to the Vacancy. The things I remember most about those two previous periods were the amazing variety of services we were able to enjoy – taken by a wide group of people: some retired ministers or ministers of other churches, some Lay Preachers and some led by different individuals or groups of people from within our own membership. I expect some of you will be able to recall services you particularly remember for various reasons.

But, of course, the church is not just about the Sunday morning services. It is about the way we develop our fellowship within the church and the community every day of the week. We need to re-think our priorities and build on the things which we have begun to develop during George’s time with us.

One of these is the aim to get our Silver ‘Eco Church’ award. We have achieved the Bronze award but we can do better than that. Saving energy is something that is the responsibility of us all as climate change is affecting everyone now but is going to affect our children, grandchildren and future generations even more. This is something that George was very keen to foster. We used to have an Eco Team in the past, so why can’t we get one going again? I’m sure our young people would be ready to join in with such a team if we asked them.

I recently heard Michael Morpurgo speaking on the radio and talking about his newest book, ‘A Song of Gladness – a story of hope for us and our planet’. The inspiration for the book came when, during lockdown, he heard a blackbird singing in his garden every morning and imagined the song being passed around the world. He said that he had never felt a closer sense of belonging to the world about him. In his comments at the end of the book he says the following: “It is a world which generations of us have been, and are still, destroying with our speed and our greed. It is up to us to change that, the future of the planet depends on us.”

So, we are in a Vacancy again. But let’s not be too inward looking, wondering when we’ll get a new minister. Let’s look out, too, and see how we might be able to improve things in our neighbourhood and further afield for the good of the whole world.

[From The Record, June 2021]

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