July/August 2017

Dear Friends,

The Circuit Celebration on the evening of Sunday 25th June at Central was probably the longest service in a long while, if not ever! But it was truly a wonderful occasion. It showed the circuit had much to celebrate and it was good to see some of the mission and worship that is going on in the various churches; and even more remarkable when you consider that that was not all of it! It was great to see how far the churches of four former circuits have grown together as one circuit in six years. On a personal level, I am pondering how far I have come in eight years, since I first moved here to Batley in August 2009. I am pondering where on earth the time goes and realizing too how much I hate moving, which is unfortunate for one who is an itinerant minister! A supernumerary minister in my home circuit once said to me "Just remember Deborah, we ministers come to pass, we never come to stay!" As one of the hymns we sang at the recent circuit celebration says, it is time for me to "pull the tent pegs up again" (God who sets us on a journey - Joy Dine).

When I moved here I came convinced that God had given me a promise. It kept cropping up all over the place; in my daily readings, on a bookmark someone gave me and on several cards. The promise was from Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I feel sure that meeting Peter was part of that promise and, as we met and married, it was wonderful to share those times with all of you who had known him for so long and who have been my church family too. Peter soon called himself "the vicar's wife"! "Minister's spouse" is the correct term and, yes, he was good at it because of who he was and he was a great support and help to me in my ministry amongst you. I don't know the answer to the "Whys" I have asked since he died; all I know is that Peter will continue to be part of God's promise to me as I now move from here to a new place. And suddenly that promise keeps popping up again! At the Church Family Weekend in March, daily readings and at the recent Messy Church but it is a reminder that God is with me. He has travelled the last eight years with me, sharing the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for travelling the last eight years with me and for being there with me (and Peter) in all those times.

Three weeks after our wedding in October 2011, we held a Thanksgiving Service at Central. One of the hymns we chose to sing was one that had meant a lot to both of us in our individual pasts but which we both thought put into words the truth that God was in it all and in everything. He truly has a plan for us all, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." You will find all the verses in STF 470 but here are two I offer as a prayer for you and for me, as we all keep on journeying with God into the future He has planned for us.

  Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
  urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
  sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided,
  Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

  Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us,
  self on the cross and Christ upon the throne;
  past put behind us, for the future take us,
  Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.
    Timothy Dudley-Smith (b.1926)

With my thanks, love, prayers and every blessing,