As I announced in the online service on Sunday 24th January, I am to retire as Rector of Langdon Hills. My last working day will be Easter Sunday, 4th April.
Christine and I will be moving to Otley in Yorkshire, close to our daughter Sarah. Christine’s mother, Mavis, will also be moving nearby.
We already intended to retire this year, but when Mavis had a bad fall and an operation it became clear that it needed to be sooner rather than later. She is making a good recovery, but she needs a level of support which is not sustainable at our current distance.
When the date was set we had hoped that the Covid crisis would be receding by Easter, and that we would be back in church and progressing towards normality. Sadly, that now seems less likely. Our farewells will probably have to be virtual rather than face to face!
The Church Council (PCC) was informed at our zoom meeting on 18th January. The Diocese has been cutting back on clergy numbers due to financial constraints, but Archdeacon Mike Lodge was in attendance at PCC and was able to reassure members that I will be replaced. However, there will be the usual interregnum (i.e. a gap between appointments). He and the Area Dean, Rev. Jane Richards, will help the church to manage the interregnum and to seek a new Rector.
In the next two months I will be working with our churchwarden, Nik Wright, and others to cover the period immediately after my retirement. I hope and believe that all of you will do what you can to support those who will be maintaining our church’s life during the interregnum.
We first came to Langdon Hills in a previous century, in 1998! We have been here for over 22 years and our children grew up here. Sarah attended Lincewood Primary School and then followed David to The Billericay School. It has been a great privilege to serve the parish and the churches of St. Mary’s and St. John’s. We have made many friends and it will be a wrench for us to leave. Nevertheless, we believe that it is the right time to go, both for us and for the parish. The church needs fresh leadership to move on to the next stage of its mission and ministry.
Change is never easy and it is particularly challenging in the current circumstances. However, God uses such times to shape us and to mould us. In particular, He often uses interregna to raise people up and to grow churches spiritually and in discipleship. It will be our prayer that God will continue to bless St. Mary’s and St. John’s in the months and years ahead. May we also ask for your prayers that God will bless us as we move on to pastures new.
May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Colin and Christine.