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Dear Friends,

 

On 13th January 2007 I arrived at the Manse and remember saying to one of the welcomers, “you’re stuck with me for ten and a half years unless I do something stupid”. Well, ten and a half years later and, thankfully, I haven’t done anything bad enough for you to call for my removal! Of course we’ve had our ups and downs and I am sorry if I have offended anyone; on the whole, however, I think we can look back over our time together with pride. A growing church in Prestbury, an Ecumenical partnership in Warden Hill, children’s services and greater involvement in the community around St Andrew’s, all paint a picture of a healthy, committed fellowship. True, we are all getting older and jobs are more difficult to fill, but our mission to serve God has never faltered and I am deeply grateful to you all.

 

Life in Cheltenham was very different from my One-Church Pastorate in Hampshire. Having three churches was overwhelming, particularly the number of e-mails I received! Then there was the two year period when I was also Area Minister for Gloucestershire – that was an eye-opener!! However, I was privileged to visit URCs around the County which helped put my own pastorate into perspective. Believe me, if you think you have problems………..

 

Visiting church folk in their homes has always been one of my favourite occupations! I am humbled by your warmth and welcome and many is the time I have been ministered to by you. Thank you. This may seem strange, but the number one privilege is taking a funeral. Over the years here, complete strangers have let me into their grief, their inner lives, their precious memories and I never cease to be grateful to God for placing me in a position of trust. Again, very, very humbling.

 

We have had many a laugh over the years, but I have failed miserably in getting you to smile while you sing hymns! You look so glum! Think of the words, think of who you are singing to and dare to look happy about it! We all know God has a sense of humour – He must do, to have called me to Ordained Ministry!

 

Thank you, Elders, Wardens and Secretaries for keeping me sane and steering me along the right path with your wisdom. The rest of the church need to get behind you now and support you in the months ahead. I know a vacancy is often dreaded, but I have every confidence that all three congregations will show the Synod that you are up for the challenge. I also believe Cheltenham and this Pastorate are attractive, and will lure a Minister with enthusiasm to serve you.

 

I leave with mixed feelings: you have been so loving toward me and I shall miss you. But (and there is a ‘but’) I am physically tired and it will be good to take a break. I am excited about making Stafford my home again, after being away for thirty years. I would love to see you there – the Church Secretaries have my address.

Again, thank you so much for all your love

Lots of hugs Maz

 

Poppies

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