My dear friends in Christ, for the past seven years I have served here in the parish of St Thomas the Apostle as your Vicar. Over that time we have seen through hardships, challenges, tears, joy and the numerical and more importantly the spiritual growth of this parish. This parish now truly represents the vision of an inclusive, family friendly and missional place to encounter God in his holy sacraments.
Perhaps as a result of what we have achieved together, The Bishop of Plymouth has asked me to consider a new challenge and a new adventure as the Priest in Charge of the Roborough Team Ministry in Plymouth (part of the Diocese of Exeter) and to have a role in enabling Mission and Evangelism in a new and exciting beast called the Mission Community of the Holy Family across the north of the city of Plymouth.
It is always hard to discern the call of God and so it is with a sense of both regret and excitement that I have decided to accept his invitation. It is with regret because it means leaving this community which I love so much and in whom both Lou and I have found so many friends and in which God has blessed us so much together. However this regret is ameliorated by this exciting opportunity: to work in mission and outreach across a number of parishes and to face new opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. I intend that my final Sunday in this Parish will be Sunday 29th January 2012 and my licensing by the Diocesan Bishop of Exeter, Bishop Michael will take place on Sunday 26th February 2012, at S. Edward King and Martyr, Shaugh Prior after which the parish of S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson will be in Vacancy. You may be concerned that the Incumbancy in this Parish might not be replaced, but I understand from Fr John, our Area Dean that Elson as a thriving, vibrant and missional community is at the heart of the Deanery Plan, and of course, we have the continued ministry of Mother Margaret, into whose hands this parish is entrusted during the vacancy and who in partnership with you all will continue to do God’s marvelous work in this place.
This move places before us as a family a number of challenges: not least in as much as Lou, Emma and Zoe will be remaining in Gosport to see out the academic year and join me at the end of July. We ask for your prayers and support for our family during this difficult transitional period.
We should therefore now turn and give thanks to God for the time that we have shared as priest and people and look forward to the new opportunities that a new incumbent will bring to St Thomas, for further growth and deepening in faith, praying that God will call the right person to walk with this parish further on their journey with him…