“It’s with sadness that I sit at my desk and put together some helpful words which will herald my last time as a writer for The Link.
What can I say as I look back on five years with you? I remember all the many people with whom both Diana and I have had contact. People who attend the churches and many we have come to know very well. People who come for those occasional offices such as Baptisms, Weddings and when a loved one is taken from them. The Advent and Lent studies we have run in the Rectory; Diana’s bible study for ladies; the Confirmation classes where I prepared two adults for the laying on of hands. Of course all the many services in which we gather around the Holy Table and the many other services which characterise the changing seasons of the Church’s year. The involvement in two Primary schools as both an assembly leader and governor. Also the friendship and support from Katharine as a Reader and Rev. Sue Houghton as an honorary priest. We said our ‘farewells’ recently as Sue stepped down from active ministry.
Jesus once referred to himself as ‘The True Vine’ with his Father as the ‘Vinedresser’ – the owner. He also referred to his disciples being ‘pruned’, that is, ready to get on with the job for which Jesus had been preparing them.
I guess that this ‘pruning’ is always going on in each of us – to slowly erase from our characters those things which are unworthy of the Vinedresser, the Lord God. I am sure that in our time here we have all been ‘pruned’, as we have sought to move on in our pilgrimage. From time to time I have quoted in sermons: ‘we don’t stand still spiritually; we either go forwards or backwards!’
Now each of us is in a part of God’s Vineyard. In this place we must abide in the True Vine and bear fruit for Him. Wherever we live, we are all in some corner of the same Vineyard working for God’s Glory and the growth of the Kingdom. Now we are off to another part of His Vineyard – but it is still His Vineyard. This came as a total surprise to us when the opportunity presented itself in a very powerful way that God hadn’t quite finished with us (not that He ever does). So off we go to East Sussex to care for one parish and one congregation. Yes, God does supply our needs and not our wants. Or as J. Neville Ward puts it in his book ‘The Use of Praying’: ‘There is that peculiar joy of recognition as the Christian mind reflects on the way things have gone. Yes, that is what I really wanted even when I thought I wanted something quite different.’
Thank you for your love and friendship! May God direct the right person to you to continue the work in this part of the Vineyard!
With Love and Prayers, Peter and Diana
A UNITED BENEFICE FAREWELL SERVICE
will be held for Rev. Peter Walker
on Sunday 24th September at 11.00am at St. Michael’s Church, Cotleigh.
with Lunch to follow at Cotleigh Village Hall.
Do come along and join us as we say goodbye to Peter and Diana
(Parking at the Village Hall)
You may be wondering, with the retirement of Rev. Sue and Rev. Peter’s departure, what will be happening about services after the end of September. The pattern of Sunday services will continue more or less as before, although our co-operation with Cotleigh will be increased. Holy Communion on he first Sunday of the month will usually be led by Bishop Oliver Simon, formerly Bishop of Madagascar and now resident of Colyton, who we have got to know over recent months as he has helped out when needed. On the second and third Sunday we join with Cotleigh for Holy Communion at 10.30am and Evensong at 6.00pm respectively. The fourth Sunday sevice, Sunday 4U, will continue to be led by Katharine Murray, our Reader.
Our Churchwardens are continuing to meet with others in the Deanery to discuss the future of clergy appointments in our wider area.
We are still hoping to hold the Harvest Supper on Friday 6th October – but still looking for some more helpers. Can you volunteer? Please let us know soonest.
REV. SUE HOUGHTON has meant a great deal to the church, the school and the community of Offwell and indeed the other villages in the Benefice over the past many years. She has served us humbly and faithfully in the true spirit of Christ, not only the in the more public aspects of the priesthood, but, as many people will bear witness, in lovingly supporting and helping individuals and families at times of crisis and distress. She has been our anchor through two changes of clergy leadership, and we are truly grateful for all she has given us so generously.
Sue has now announced her well-earned retirement from the end of July. On Sunday 30th July at 10.30 am there will be a joint service in Offwell for all five churches in the Benefice at which we shall mark the conclusion of Sue’s ministry here. So thank you, Sue – but not goodbye. Sue and David will still be living in the parish for the foreseeable future.
REV. PETER WALKER is also retiring at the end of September. More of that in the next issue.
WORK ON THE CHURCH STEPS and the churchyard drainage has now been completed. Do go down and have a look. Next project – restoration of the pews!
WE MISSED YOU at the Harvest Supper last year – did you miss it too? Because there wasn’t one. We’d like to continue this traditional celebration of the goodness of God, but help is needed if we are to put it on without a very small team of people collapsing in an exhausted heap at the end of the night. Many hands make light work. If you can help with catering, setting up or clearing away; or if you have any ideas for entertainment, your assistance will be welcomed with open arms. Contact the Churchwardens.
With your help, the Supper will be on Friday 6 October. Harvest Festival Family Service will be on the previous Sunday, 1 October.