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Minister’s May Newsletter

Dear Friends,
As I write this letter, I am conscious of how many people are praying for me, right now. I have lost count of the number of you who have assured me that you are praying that I will find a suitable home in which to enjoy my retirement. Those of you who have also been making kind enquiries as to whether that home has been found yet, will know that the answer is “No.”
The housing market is very slow right now; the requirements of the URC Retired Ministers’ Housing Society are, of necessity, very high, as they are a registered charity; my preferred location (near my sons) and the need to be within walking distance of public transport, shops, medical facilities—and a church would be nice – have all combined to present nothing thus far.
Does this mean that the praying is having no effect? Far from it. I believe that it is only your prayers which are holding me back from panic-stricken despair right now. The power of prayer makes a powerful difference in us. Prayer keeps us hopeful, trusting and steadfast. Prayer gives us the ability to cope with challenges we never believed we would be able to face. Prayer gives us the patience to allow God’s plans to unfold in His time, rather than demand results right now.
I am sharing this with you, partly to say thank-you so very much for your prayer support to me and partly because you may need to remember this during the months to come. The process of calling a new Minister is, of necessity, a long one. There is a serious short-age of Ministers in the URC; a certain amount of the work at Synod and Synod Area levels is done by volunteers with limited time (and unlimited pressure); our Synod Moderators have heavy workloads and a continual challenge to direct ordained ministry to where it is most needed.
There will be times when things appear to be moving very slowly indeed or not moving at all. The temptation to drift away and let your commitment slide; the temptation to shout loudly and e-mail tactlessly; the temptation to give up on God because He does not appear to be Doing Anything will be strong. It is then that you need to pray for each other and to hold this whole church community in prayer.
Prayer may not speed up the process of calling a new minister, but it will enable you to work and worship in hope, to see signs of new life happening right now, to realise gifts, strengths and opportuni-ties to be explored right now. Many congregations have spoken of a ministerial vacancy as a time of unexpected growth in many ways. Pray that this may be so for St John’s. And never give up!
Of course, it is possible that, by the time this Newsletter is distributed, my situation may have changed and there will be the new home you have prayed for. And it may be that, far sooner than anyone would dare to predict, there will be the new Minister at St John’s we are all praying for. Nobody knows. But what we do know is that every prayer offered will make us stronger and draw us closer to God.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4, verses 6-7)
With love and good wishes to you all,

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