As you will hopefully know by now, Mark (our Vicar) is currently on sabbatical and has therefore switched his focus from serving our parish to study (for more information please see the November Magazine). As a result many of Mark (and Isabel’s) duties have been taken up by other people. Many people are giving a new area of ministry a go whilst others have increased their service in areas they were already serving in. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up and taken on additional duties, all of your hard work means our church family can continue to serve our parish and the people of Padiham and Hapton. Much of the pastoral duties which Mark normally takes on have been passed to me, and this is an opportunity for me to continue to develop in the practice of my vocation, as I move towards the end of my training period. Many people have kindly asked me what the future holds for Natalie and I, and I will take this opportunity to answer those questions.
The selection and training of a Church of England priest takes a long time, and this is of course entirely correct. Selection takes about two years; three years is then spent at theological college reading for a degree in theology; and then finally three years is spent being trained in the practical side of priesthood in a parish like Padiham. For myself, this final three year training period will conclude in July when I receive a letter from the Bishop of Blackburn confirming I have met all of the training criteria. Once I have this letter I am then at liberty to apply for positions around the Church of England. This means, in theory at least, that Natalie and I could move to a new parish later this year, however, it is more likely to be 2019 before we find the right parish for us. Natalie and I love being part of this parish, and hope that when the time comes that the move will not take us too far away.
In the meantime I still have lots to learn, new skills to hone, and no doubt mistakes to make. We have begun a sabbatical sermon series on John’s Gospel which will see us through until Mark returns, and I hope and pray that you will find focusing on just one Gospel and seeing it through from start to finish to be interesting, rewarding, and most importantly helpful for you to grow in your love for God.
We will, in the course of this month, pass into Lent, which is a time of the Christian year when we are encouraged to focus on areas of our spiritual life which need improvement; perhaps developing our prayer life, reading the Scriptures more, or fighting against a particular sin. Whatever you decide to focus on in these 40 days why not formally mark the beginning of Lent by attending one of our Ash Wednesday services; either 10am at St Leonard’s or 7.30pm at St Margaret’s, and in so doing let’s encourage one another to keep following Jesus all the way to Easter, and beyond.
Yours in Christ,