Always we begin againIt was Oscar Wilde who said ‘Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.’ Far be it from me to call my books ‘art’ but life it seems is paying some resemblance to their titles.

There are elements of Life with St Benedict with the sad, impending closure of Alton Abbey, of which I am a lay member (an oblate) of their Benedictine Monastic Community. But, more than that, in the last year to eighteen months, Jane and I have been Looking to Move On and in such times we have continually been needing to look at ways of Finding Stability in Times of Change – and will need to continue to do so.

We have both hugely appreciated all that has brought us ‘life’ as part of our current team of churches over the last 4 years. It has become apparent to both of us that Jane needs to re-frame the future of her ministry as continuing to work as a full time stipendiary priest is no longer possible. Into that context of exploring other avenues, Jane has been appointed to the post of part-time Associate Minister in the Totnes Team Ministry, based in Marldon. We are already well known in the Totnes Team, where Jane served her initial curacy following her ordination in 2015. She will be licensed there in mid-June by the Bishop of Plymouth.

We feel it is the best ‘next step’ for us both individually and together. We will continue to be part of the Haldon Mission Community until the end of April and the Diocese is already working with the Team Rector to support the ministry here in a number of ways until a new appointment is made.

Like everyone, we have A Story to Tell and, as the last post reflected on, it’s one which will have various edited versions. There is this one, the one you are reading now. The public version. There are various private versions containing different pieces of the story too – and, sorry, you probably won’t get to know those.

Whereas many people would share their story with those they see most regularly (and on social media!), such is the nature of clergy and vicarage life, boundaries have to be in place with those who are nearest but not quite as dearest as others we know.

Just a handful of people have known a fair amount of it and they have accompanied us with their prayers, wisdom and support along the twists and turns, the ups and downs of that story. People who have journeyed with us for years. Trusted prayerful companions. What we have shared with them has been kept watertight and we are grateful to those who ensured there were no leaks.

It would seem, on reflection, that God sent us to where we have been since June 2019. Sent rather than called, as Jane sensed very strongly at the time. Sent for the expected and the unexpected – notably supporting six (now eight) churches through pandemic lockdowns and a year-long absence of a Team Rector.  That was a time of great challenge but also great things – new ways of being church, new ways of encountering God.

As predicted, we have pleased and we have disappointed. We have gained and we have lost.

And now God is calling us on. Another place – a familiar one at that. Another chapter in the ongoing story. Another way to encounter the truth of what St Benedict said: ‘Always we begin again.’


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