It is strange to imagine that I never wanted to leave our beloved
‘North’, but here we are, over six years later, very happily settled
among people whom we have grown to love greatly.
I was nurtured in a traditional style of church and ministry.
At the age of six, I had walked mostly twice a week the 30 minutes
to the Congregational Chapel at the other end of the village (in
1972 becoming URC, but now merged with a Methodist Church in the
next village). Worship and Sunday School became an important part
of my developing life, as had Pilots, a mid-week non-uniformed organisation
sponsored by the then Congregational Church. It was a situation
in which everyone was valued, encouraged and challenged to work
out their own faith story in the midst of its fellowship and outreach.
It was through the encouragement and support of the folk at Lightcliffe
that I enlisted for a course in Community & Youth Work as a means
of testing a call to ministry within the Church. That had led to
25 years of service to ‘Community Ministry’ on Merseyside and in
West Yorkshire, both as a Community & Youth Worker as well as a
Community Minister. I trained at Westminster College (1980 - 83)
and was ordained at Brackenhall URC in December 1983.
Looking back on this time as a 'Community Minister' there were
times when life was extremely difficult, challenging and demanding,
but it is a time I will cherish for a long time to come.
Jayne was born and bred in Hunslet, South Leeds, and comes from
a strong Methodist background, but with an appreciation of other
traditions including Anglican and Evangelical Free. She played leading
roles in Pantomime as well as Guides within the local fellowship,
before responding to a call from the District Guides to take on
board the leaderless and failing group at Belle Isle United Reformed
Church. She turned things round, and left a thriving group (Rainbows
through to Guides) and a strong leadership team.
We married on 5 November 1995 in South Leeds and continued to
serve the churches of the South Leeds Team Ministry. Eventually,
I felt that it was time to change direction within my ministry,
both because of the frustration I felt at the time of being more
involved in community than local church, but also because we were
blessed with a beautiful son, Aaron, born on 5 August 1998 and South
Leeds was very demanding on my time and energies.
Little did we realise that a visit to Christ Church in November
1998 while on holiday should eventually lead to a move ‘Down South’.
I had known of Christ Church, Clacton, over many years but had never
considered for a moment that it would be a situation to which I
might be called. In the November of 1999 we had attended the morning
service led by Rev’d Colin Knight.
Following the morning service, we were approached by numerous
people in the hope that we’d consider looking at their situation
with a view to becoming their minister. ‘We were just the kind of
family they were looking for’ emphasised Catherine Grimsey and others
at the time. Surprisingly (and somewhat reluctantly!) we believed
that the church fellowship might be the kind of situation which
I needed if I was to develop my ministry in the right and appropriate
direction. We felt as a family very much at home in its midst, and
that had encouraged us greatly.
It was with great delight and thanks to God when the call was
eventually issued – albeit with a delayed introduction from the
wider church that slowed the process down somewhat. It was at the
end of August 1999 that we said our fond farewells to the good folk
of South Leeds, and headed ‘down South’ and the challenges that
await us, nervous but grateful that the Lord has led us to this
place that very few people in Yorkshire had heard of. The apparent
change of direction of my ministry may have seemed strange to many
at the time, but not to Jayne and myself. We have always seen it
as part of Gods mysterious involvement with each one of us in the
working out of His greater purpose
The last six years have reinforced so many times and in so many
different ways that those who seek to trust and follow where He
leads will be blessed and sustained in their journey and confirmed
in their calling. In that time, the worshipping fellowship has increased
along with Junior Church and other church groups, the Eldership
has been strengthened, our premises have been redeveloped to make
them more ‘user friendly’ and we have a strong and healthy relationship
with the wider community and Clacton as a whole.
We give thanks for all those who have supported and encouraged
us in this stage of our ministry. We are very proud of our son,
Aaron, who is now in the third year at St. Clare’s Roman Catholic
School, and developing an acute sense of humour. Jayne is also happily
settled at St. Clare’s as a Learning Support Assistant, a post she
began in June 2005.