On Sunday May 6th we held my Testimony service. Following a delicious tea I was thrilled to celebrate the occasion in a full Church. The singing was awesome and we were blessed to have our musicians and choir. It was also lovely to have prayers led by our young people. For me personally, it gave me the opportunity to reflect upon my training to date.
Six years ago, as I attended two days of interviews by the Connexional Candidates Committee, I took with me the verse John 15; 12 ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’. My journey since then has had its fair share of ups and downs, U turns, no entry and full speed ahead moments. And of course challenges, surprises and blessings. The challenge and exhaustion of juggling a teaching position, whilst studying for a degree at college in Birmingham and still trying to be a good Mum, wife and in the latter stages, Grandma. The challenge and headache of being required to read hundreds of books and write 6,000 word essays thirty years after I left formal education. The challenge of placements in hospitals, soup kitchens, dementia units, hostels and a Church that disagree strongly with the ordination of women. The challenge of going before various committees and receiving reports written about me, and the surprise, relief and sheer joy of being told on March 6th that I am deemed ready to be ordained. And amongst this has been the unbelievable blessing of being given shared pastoral responsibility for our Church here in Ormskirk.
Since arriving at Emmanuel I have had so many wonderful experiences. I remain truly humbled that people allow me to journey alongside them at the most liminal moments of their lives: the death of a loved one, the baptism of their child, their union in marriage. I’ve learnt how to play bananagrams whilst on the wayward wanderers walking weekends, got far too competitive in the quiz on the Church weekend, peeled potatoes on the Boys Brigade camp and competed in team races, also involving potatoes, with the Girls Brigade. I‘ve got Messy at Messy Church and sung carols with the Sunday School and the choir, played the ukulele with the women’s fellowship and eaten delicious home-made cakes with the Guild… so many activities too numerous to mention. But of course amongst all this activity, I have prayed with people, read and studied scripture and presided at the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
As a Minister I have the privilege and responsibility of seeking to discern God’s will for the Church and how we can seek to serve the wider community. I go into our schools to assist with the nurturing and developing of the spiritual lives of our young people. I have the opportunity to work with my ecumenical partners as we seek to make Christ real in the lives of the people of Ormskirk and I have just been asked to support the students and staff of the diverse community at Edge Hill University. But together, as a Church community, we have the privilege and responsibility of being part of a corporate journey with Christ as we seek to understand what Jesus really meant, in very practical terms, when he said ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’.
And so, I would like to say a huge heart-felt thank you to all those of you who have been and will continue to be a part of my journey in ministry. On July 1st as I kneel for ordination, I will feel the joy in my heart of knowing that you continue to pray for me as I continue to pray for you. We journey together as a people called to love one another as Christ loves us. May God continue to bless us all and everything we do in his name.