After many months of praying, talking and preparing, we are now in Wolverhampton.
The last Sunday in August saw us bidding farewell to the church in Bromley, it was a good ending, and we left feeling that the church were praying for us. The highlight for me in that day was the prayer during the Later Service – a time of intimacy and intensity.
Gifts, prayers and warm wishes were gratefully received, and we were sent into a week of final packing and getting things together for the house move the following week.
We moved here on Monday 8th, with our belongings packed into a removals truck, and some delivered to the house, some to the church and the rest to storage, awaiting the day when the manse situation is resolved (the church is currently selling one, renting another and looking to buy a new one) all this in the midst of a difficult housing market, and great financial uncertainty.
One of the passages of scripture that (although completely out of context) has given us some encouragement is 2 Corinthians 5:7 “We walk by faith, not by sight”.
And so yesterday, the 20th, was the day of the induction service.
Just as we were concerned to end well in Bromley, so too we wanted to start well here. And we did. We were thrilled to have friends from our times in Lancaster, Northampton and Bromley join with the church here, as well as members of our family. Ray Gill, who'd moderated the church here during the time of pastoral vacancy led the service with humour, warmth and understanding. He literally handed me a baton, symbolising the passing of the care of the church, it was a moving moment; the music group, who play so well week by week were just superb, and the building was filled with the most wonderful singing; Kate Coleman was on fire, challenging us as a church, and us as a family, to “step out of the boat” like Peter, and become extraordinary followers of Jesus; the covenant pattern of induction we used from “Gathering for Worship” worked really well, and Keith Judson led us through it with skill and humility; friends from Northampton, Bromley, Wolverhampton and Birmingham prayed for us, and faith rose as we called upon God for his leadership, guidance and protection; finally we had a number of greetings from local churches, who I'll enjoy getting to know better in the weeks ahead.
And so we begin, with faith that God is up to something, with a desire to put mission at the heart of this church, and with an assurance that participating in building the Kingdom is better than anything else in the world.