The unfolding of 2014 saw an increasing number of transitional experiences opening up to many within the worshipping community. The year saw some older friends moving into residential care, and others welcoming the arrival of new grandchildren. The pioneering Community Café project on Wednesday mornings evolved further with new initiatives in sewing and knitting and a special Christmas Craft event prompted discussions exploring of a regular evening event.
As a worshipping community we began to explore the practicalities of sustaining both leadership and Sunday services when the long familiar pattern of a full time paid pastor is no longer available after my retirement next year. During the year I took a ten week sabbatical around my planned family holiday to my son in USA: these weeks saw several of our folk take new roles in Sunday worship and gave opportunity to meet new friends as they came to us as visiting preachers. IBC much appreciated the willingness of all who took helped in any way over those weeks, especially Dennis Anderson who co-ordinated the whole period. In the coming year this greater diversity of participants in, and nature of, Sunday worship will be developed in both frequency and personnel: the first being World Leprosy Day (25th Jan) when Heather Merriman will lead and update us on the work of The Leprosy Mission. Similar events are planned for later in the year.
Against the backdrop of Sunday worship that explored the BUGB thinking about “seeing the future through different eyes” and Bible passages of facing new challenges and what the church’s nature and characteristics should be, the leadership have been both identifying some of the implications and challenges lack of a full time pastor will present and shared their thinking with Rev Grenville Overton, Leader of the Regional Ministry Team, at a meeting soon after my sabbatical. As this report is being written we are awaiting a date from him to meet with the worshipping community early in 2015 to explore further together.
The new University year brought various new international students amongst us and a nurse from Portugal now working at QAH: as ever their presence enriches our understanding of being a worldwide family of faith. During the year we have seen several folk become increasingly involved in our life and worship whilst at the same time other long term worshippers have lost their mobility and cannot be present with us. During the year, Marea who has been with us for about five years, have had an extended stay in her native Botswana, decided to resettle there and returned to UK on a brief spring visit to sort out her affairs. During the year there were neither new members nor resignations, however in November we were saddened by the death Sheena McQueen, Elspeth’s mum, who although in membership here for many years, her long illness and eleven years in nursing care meant that most new her through prayer at Communion Services.
Yes 2014 was a year of transitions in so many lives – 2015 will inevitably present more and greater change but we reflect on the past and anticipate the future with that confidence expressed by the song writer Albert Smith when he wrote:
I know who holds the future, And I know he holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen ev’rything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles, Give to Him my all!
Your friend and Pastor