Whenever any of us are warmly welcomed by people who are in the place where we are entering, the general rule of thumb is that we feel safe and secure and have that sense of belonging.
Both Malcolm and I can honestly say that, from the moment we arrived in Hathersage, we have felt such a welcome. We have been truly embraced by many words of welcome, cards, flowers and even, dare I say, the odd bottle of wine!
So it is, as I commence my second post in ministry, as Methodist Minister in particular care of Methodist chapels in the Hope Valley, already I know that Malcolm and I have a sense of belonging; we feel safe and secure that we are in the right place at this time of our lives. Our hope is that you may feel the same about us at this time in your lives!
The past weeks have taught us many good things about the area but I’m aware that you know little about us, so here goes with a snippet of our history.
Malcolm was born in Rugby, Warwickshire and me in Hinckley, Leicestershire which is where we happily lived until moving to North Somerset in 2009 to take up my first appointment in ministry.
My working life began in banking, which is where I met Malcolm who retired from the bank after 40 years of service there. I moved into a variety of different jobs over the years, working as a PA in a local firm and at a private physiotherapy clinic. In between those jobs I worked for the Royal Mail as a post-lady delivering mail in both Hinckley and Burbage.
I was brought up in the Roman Catholic denomination which formed my faith but left the church as a teenager and then went back to church when our children, Vikki and Richard, were born, this time to the Methodist Church which is the denomination Malcolm was brought up in.
It was whilst at Hinckley Methodist Church that my journey with God re-commenced and I found a passion for Jesus and wanted to share that with people. As the journey progressed, I found myself encountering new challenges from God which ultimately progressed me to becoming a Minister – or “Presbyter” which is the politically correct term – in the Methodist Church. I never imagined that these challenges would lead me to this role – just ask anyone who encountered me on the hockey pitch, and they would say the same! But here I am, in a different place, a beautiful place, but having the same passion for God and Jesus and how the work of his Holy Spirit can transform us all for the better – I’m no longer the determined hockey player, honestly, I’m not!!!
Those days of sport are over for both Malcolm and I; various injuries have taken their toll so today our spare time is spent watching sport rather than taking part. We do, however, still enjoy walking and are relishing the chance to get out and be in The Peaks.
We’re also looking forward to seeing more of our children and the four grandchildren we now have. As Richard is still in Hinckley and Vikki in Liverpool they were quite a way off from North Somerset. Another wonderful thing about being in Hathersage is that we are now equidistant between them both and we can all get to each other much more easily.
You might see us about one day happily enjoying this beautiful area where we already feel we belong. You have blessed us so richly. Thank you. I finish with these words for all whom we have met and those we are yet to meet: “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” (Jude 2)