Hello folks, the sad neglect of New Kid on the Blog continues, I'm afraid - it's the old story of either not having enough time or having enough time but not being able to think of something to say, though definitely more of the former than the latter.
When I moved from a thirteen parish Team to a five parish Mission Community I had this crazy idea that there might actually be less for me to fill my time with and I might have a bit more space to think in terms of Mission, Strategy, Innovation and the like. This has not been the case - there's more goes on here in these few parishes than we ever managed to get going in our old patch. It's not that my previous parishes were quiet, far from it, but the population was more transient, many people commuted and went away for weekends and the villages often didn't have 'centres' in which the communities met and shared.
In these smaller villages in rural Devon there is still a significant feeling of community, and the village halls, pubs and shops which are dotted around are key points for people to gather, make plans, have fun and chatter. I used to have villages in my care that I could spend a whole day in and not meet another soul as I wandered, here I am lucky if I can get from my car (or motorbike) to the Church without having half a dozen conversations with all sorts of people.
It's great, it's fun and it's tiring. Not for a minute, though, do I regret the move - though I still miss many of my friends and congregation members (who were often one and the same thing) as well as my fantastic colleagues from South Cambs and the Papworth Team Ministry. In an ideal world I would ship them all down here, particularly as we had some very gifted leaders - in children and youth ministry, in worship and in Bible Study - who's ministry could grow and flourish here. That's not to say, by any means, that we don't have leaders of such calibre here, we just need to wheedle them out a bit!
I am overjoyed to be working with and blessed by the colleagues I have here. Our Curate is proving to be a gift to our villages, and builds on the great work already going on here. I'm sad that we will soon be loosing our Associate Priest as she prepares to move on to a new home and a new Diocese. We have two talented and caring Readers who enhance our Ministry Team and a couple of Retired Priests, married to each other, who live in one of the villages of the Mission Community and give a huge amount to the pastoral care of that place, as well as supporting their local parish and taking an active part in the wider Mission Community.
And all of us are busy! Sometimes over-busy, it's an occupational hazard, but usually just busy. We are going to embark in the coming weeks on a process of reviewing all that we do and how we can do it better, as well as spreading some of the load around to the growing, gifted and talented lay leaders we have. This has come to the fore particularly because I have recently undergone my own Ministerial Development Review - but more about that another time...
It's nice to be back, now I've started I could prattle on for hours but I will have to leave things now as it is well past midnight and I have a breakfast meeting in Exeter tomorrow... God bless, and hopefully it won't be so long before I get back to you...