My dear friends

The Ministry of Word and Sacraments is a journey of faith in response to God’s call and, as most, if not all, of you know, the time has come for me to continue my journey in response to God’s call in a new place.

I will be moving to Exmouth in Devon during the last week in September 2022 to follow the adventure that is my faith journey in a different place with different companions.  I can’t quite believe this will be my last ‘letter’ to you.

Thousands of years ago, Abram (Abraham) perceived the Lord God speaking to him.  The Old Testament Book of Genesis tells us (chapter 12:1) that the Lord said to Abram ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you’.

What! Imagine that! The land that I will show you!?  Do me a favour Lord, is what I would have said in reply, at least tell me where I’m going and how long for and how will I get there – and back!

When I began my adventures in ministry I response to God’s call, I had a lot of questions! I could write a whole book about that ‘discernment’ process between call and college. But the writer of Genesis records only a few words between the call to ‘go’ and verse 4 ‘So Abram went, as the Lord had told him’, just like that!

But the Lord had a promise for Abram that spans just 2 verses, the nub of which told Abram that the Lord would bless him and he would be a blessing.

Well, I’m not so sure about being a blessing, but the Lord God who called Abram called me to join Him in an adventure – to who knew where.

Quite often I felt lost, as Abram must have in a new and unfamiliar landscape, going – who knew where.  I was lost and frightened at times.  But, just as the Lord God – Abram’s God and my God – blessed Abram, the Lord also blessed me.  The God who called me equips me, every day to navigate a new landscape and unfamiliarity of each new day – toddlers, funerals, residential care homes and schools intertwined in a mixture that only ministry can provide.

The Lord reappeared in Abram and Sarai’s (Sarah’s) story, reminding Abram, when the going got tough, of the promise He had made at the start when Abram first perceived that God had something for him to do – somewhere, somehow.

In a similar way, I encounter God reminding me of my call and the promise – Jesus’ promise that he will be with me always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28).  That promise enables me to travel to wherever and to whomever God sends me

It has been my privilege to be your minister and I will always be glad that it was to you that God called me and sent me.  We have been pilgrims on a journey and companions on the road (as the hymn writer of ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’ says.  We have shared joy and grief, laughed and cried, written and read, puzzled and pondered, prayed and kept silent.  I have studied with you and learned from you – those of you who are young and those of you ‘full of years’.

Over the last 7 years I have baptised many babies and today, I have added to my joy as I baptised an adult believer.  I have married 7 couples (4 of whom have had babies that I have now baptized) and celebrated with 2 couples renewing their marriage vows.  I have prayed with people and for people.  I have sat with some who are dying, prayed with them and sometimes they have joined in a 3 way conversation – me, them and God – and read the Bible for them.  I have held their hand, fed them, mopped brows and wiped away tears. I have washed the dishes and tidied rooms.  I have shared communion in homes and hospitals as well as in our Churches.  I have led too many funeral services to count, but it has been an honour and privilege to share in the grieving and remembering and give thanks for lives well lived with you.  Many of your losses have been personal losses for me too as I have come to know you and grown to love you. I have had good Minister colleagues in SPACE and lost them all!

I have got messy at Messy Church and clean as I’ve felt God helping me to let go of the mistakes I have made so that I can face the future lighter and renewed with learning.

At my Ordination Service in Longcauseway Church on 20th August 2015 I promised to eat cake with you, and I have done that!  I have been privileged to be called to ministry and to start my journey as an Ordained Minister in the SPACE Group of Churches with you wonderful people – you will not be forgotten.  I will hold so many fun and fond memories of the 7 years I have spent among you.

No matter where my future adventures in faith take me, I will not stop caring about you or holding you all in my love and prayers.  I will miss you but I won’t forget you or stop loving you as Christian sisters and brothers

The greatest gift has been the opportunity to share God’s love in word and action alongside you, because we are all called to be living witnesses to God’s love, through Christ Jesus.  So, as we journey on – ‘together : apart’, please continue the good work you have started, using the gifts God has given you.  The gifts with which God blesses you and me, the gifts promised to us, are God’s love, joy, peace and hope to enjoy and to share, and above all God’s presence – Father, Son and Holy Spirit is with you always, to the end of the age.

If you’re up for a trip to the Devon coast in October, you are warmly invited by the folks of Glenorchy URC in Exmouth to my Induction Service at 2.30pm on Saturday, 22nd October – see the sign-up sheet (there’s always a sign-up sheet!)

With my love and thanks for the journey we have shared.

Rev. Janine

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