We are in the middle of moving after 5 years in my first appointment as a Methodist Minister. In a sense this is our first proper Methodist move, from one manse to another.
We have been very fortunate as I am moving to replace Ian who has just retired (for the 2nd time, after coming back from retirement and doing an extra 5 years). Ian and Irene moved out a couple of weeks ago (leaving an immaculate manse & garden plus superbly detailed handover notes and diary) which has meant the Leicester North Circuit have been able to get a lot of work done on the manse for us.
That has included a new driveway and turning a small built in garage into a utility room & downstairs loo. Today we delivered our folding camper (and a car load of fragile stuff) and so were able to have a look at the finished work.
This is one situation where as a minister you really get to appreciate the character of the Methodist people. The love and care of both the Nene Valley Circuit that we are leaving and the Leicester North Circuit that we are joining is quite amazing. It is not just thoughtfulness but generosity of giving of time, love and also clearly much prayer.
I want to share some examples from both Circuits, as an expression of thanks but also to celebrate the character of the people called Methodist.
First, where we are going. The Leicester North Circuit:
- Pete, the Circuit Steward who has been responsible for manses has been wonderfully caring even before our first meeting way back in November. He has taken great care to consider our needs and consult us on all the work planned. He has made sure all the work has been done to a high quality and on time. He must have put in many hours over the months and especially over the last few weeks. The care has included not just travelling to Ikea with another Circuit Steward to buy 6 Billy bookcases for the study but then as a team assembling them and checking we were happy with the positions so that on Monday he can fix them to the walls.
- Today Murray and Eileen, who live just down the road, had invited us for coffee as they knew we were coming over with a pile of stuff. Well it was not just coffee but also fresh cakes, choice of drinks including coke or hot chocolate for our boys and a big plate of special biscuits put in front of our youngest. They have also offered us food in evening the day we move in and storage for our bike trailer on their drive.
- On moving day another Circuit Steward, Mick, is going to try to clear cars away to allow the removal van space to park and has offered to help with the moving in.
- While Pete & Eileen have been away at New Wine, Trevor, the Circuit Treasurer, stepped in to make sure everything was finished properly. That included a full cleaning team of people who came in yesterday and have left the place sparkling clean with all the carpets shampooed.
- In the study there was a vase of fresh flowers. Don't know which kind person thought of them.
- There was also a huge envelope of leaflets about everything happening all around the area plus an A-Z map with post-it notes on every page giving details of everything from the rubbish tip to places to eat to all the churches in the circuit, ... - thanks to Kathryn
- There were welcoming cards from people. Plus while we were there the postman delivered the first mail for us, the Preaching Plan for September through November with the Circuit Newsletter - thanks to Laurie the Circuit Administrator for sorting that out.
- I could go on and on
Then consider the Nene Valley Circuit we are leaving:
- Generous gifts and lots of kind words from all over the circuit. Some like the large cartoon drawing by Mandy of me cycling to Leicester towing all our stuff in a trailer showed lots of thought and huge amounts of time. Others have been very personal reminders of things we have done together, times we have shared.
- Huge support from the Circuit Staff: Peter, Mike & Marie. Especially during the hassle of the last few weeks fighting the moth infestation which has taken my time away from other things, a time when they have been extra busy sorting out the next year which is complicated for this circuit by the reality that I am not being replaced immediately.
- The support of the Circuit Stewards particularly John in helping with a proper handover of many things.
- Chris, responsible for the manse who has been so supportive as we tried to find a way to deal with the moths that worked best for us. Plus for her concern for us as we sorted out handover of the manse.
- Jennie, the circuit administrator for taking over several things for me in the last few weeks.
- All the leadership teams from the Churches I have been serving who have all been busy taking on tasks and making plans being very generous and considerate in their expectations.
- Pam and Peter for inviting us to lunch tomorrow after another dash over to Leicester.
- Pete and Lucy for meals, encouragement and help with packing tomorrow.
- For Debbie for lots of practical and considerate things including compost moving.
- So many others who have helped in many ways.
As I said at the beginning we are in the middle of moving. The removal company do their stuff on Monday and Tuesday so things are getting close to the end of this stage. I think we will be ready but there will inevitably be things that are not completed as we would like.
What I want to do tonight though is celebrate the love, care and actions of the Methodist People that surround us. Without that we would not be ready and we would be dreading the next few weeks. As it is they have been wonderful witness to the love of God for us and I thank them all for it. It is such a wonderful privilege and joy to have been called to be a Methodist Minister and while the sadness of leaving so many fantastic people is strong the joy of being with others helps us look to the future.
This will be my last blog post from Raunds. So it is goodbye from here.