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From the Vicar - September 2021
28/08/2021

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From the Curate - July 2022

27/06/2022

Jeremiah 29: 11 For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

 

Wise words that we don’t always hear and acknowledge, at least I don’t, but words that I will certainly hold on to next time I doubt the plans that God has for me.

 

Many of you now know that I am moving to Great Yarmouth sometime in September once all the proper checks have been made. The role I will be taking on could have been designed just for me. When I first knew that Bishop Clive had signed me off, Vicar John asked me what sort of church I would be looking for in my first incumbency role. That was an easy question to answer. Firstly, no administration or PCC meetings or APCM meetings, no fabric to look after and no church yards thank you very much. I also didn’t want a school in the parish. I would like the churchmanship to be Anglo Catholic and I was happy to have older people in the parish. When Vicar John had finished laughing his advice was that I should think about retiring because most Parishes would mean that I would have at the very least one of the things that I didn’t want if not more. SO, I agreed that maybe I would be the first Priest to go from being signed off to incumbent status ministry into retirement. The good Lord had other ideas and the perfect role fulfilling all my requirements became available.

 

Great Yarmouth is a deprived area but there is lots of funding being made available for re-generation and to this end two posts were made available in the Great Yarmouth Team Ministry. One was not for me the other draws on both my skills that I have obtained since working with Vicar john and those that I brought with me from my time as a Hospital Chaplain.

 

The benefice has three churches all of them liberal catholic and incense is used on special occasions. They robe and process, so one of my boxes was ticked. Secondly there is a team rector, praise be his role is one of an oversight minister. He looks after the day to day running of the three churches, so it is he who will Chair the PCC meetings APCM’s and do all the things I dislike such as church yard maintenance and fabric. Box two is now ticked. There is also going to be a team vicar who will look after the schools, so no schoolwork, box three is now ticked. So, what is my role?

 

On a day-to-day basis I will be giving pastoral and spiritual care to the people in all three parishes, this is a new role so no precedent has been set, which I am pleased about because no one will know if I am doing it wrong, or say to me the old vicar didn’t do it like that. Three days a week I will be working with the Pathway’s café, I will also serve as a trustee for the charity. The café provides a hot meal for the homeless, unemployed and low-income families three days a week. My role will be one of support for the paid staff, volunteers and the clients that use the facilities. I will help them to understand the forms that they need to fill in to claim the benefits that they are entitled to and assist them in finding the right help for their needs. I will also be supporting the staff in the food bank which is next door. Being in a deprived area it is difficult to ask those who have nothing to help provide for those who have even less. Skillful negotiations will be needed in supporting the team to gain adequate support from local businesses. If a local supermarket is offering six cakes for 20p at the end of the day that is great, but not if you haven’t got 20p to buy them with. There is a lot of work to do in this area.

 

When I am not busy doing all the above, I will also take funerals, weddings and baptisms. On a Sunday I will lead / preach in one of the two smaller churches, St Paul’s and St Mary’s giving encouragement to the congregations who have some good missional ideas but who do not have the confidence to put them into practice. Through prayer and guidance, I hope to give them courage and confidence to implement their ideas. The Minster is looked after by the Rector. This post is going to be a challenge but one that I am looking forward to.

 

A bonus to this post is that all three churches and the café are within walking distance. The only driving that I will have to do is to the crematorium and the local authority cemetery both of which are a thirteen-minute drive away, so God has even got that covered for me.

 

For Roger there are plenty of opportunities for him to find work. Most of the driving vacancies are currently no more than a 15-minute walk, we could not ask for any more than this.

 

The vicarage itself is 15 minutes from the sea, which most of you know is my spiritual home.

 

I am leaving you all with mixed emotions. A touch of sadness that we didn’t get the opportunity to meet under different circumstances, sadness because I have made some good friends in the short time I have been here, but I am sure we will keep in touch.

I would like to thank Revd John for his words of support and wisdom and for letting me try out new things. Sally for being a listening ear and all of you for supporting me during this difficult time. I would also like to thank Helen and Sue from Little Fishes for showing me that working with children can be both fun and rewarding. I look forward to working with you all in the coming months and will continue to pray for you when I leave.

May God continue to bless these parishes with all good things and the mission that you undertake.

 

Ashley

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