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Hallo again to all,Image of a river flowing through a forest

If one stays a part of an Anglican polity long enough, sooner or later one will be touched by a transition in parish ministry, whether that be a new priest arriving at a parish an old one—maybe beloved, maybe loathed, maybe both—leaving. Perhaps a new deacon or pastoral care associate arrives. The terms vary, but the tangle of human feelings seems a common denominator: loss, joy, hope, expectation, and so many more, complicated by the fact that a parish is corporate. No one person is experiencing the same thing.

Our parish experienced that change today with the retirement of a senior priest of long standing, who was raised from that same congregation. It was a moving experience, for everyone involved. The choir prepared music for the occasion with the enthusiasm of those who want to a proper send off for a friend. The building was overflowing, especially at the late service, with our priest's colleagues, parishioners from previous calls, and our own parish family. She received a portrait that will hang alongside that of her predecessor in the parish library and a painting of the church building for her own use. Receptions gave space for public congratulations for a job well done and well-wishes for a future retirement. The parish's children presented their own tributes in the form of flowers and notes saying what they liked about our priest.

There were also many tears. There was way no around it. The end of a ministry is a parting. Pastoral relationships built over years must be severed. After we celebrate today, we must look towards an interim priest, a call for a new cleric, and many choices that will define the ways in which our parish thrives or fails.

Our front-page letters often talk about the grand trends that shape Anglicanism, when bishops and churches meet to discuss matters of the Anglican Communion at the international stage, or the history that shaped us. Today reminded us forcefully, that this is not where the life of the church resides. Peter, as today's epistle in many parts of our communion reminded us, did not have his mind about accepting Gentiles changed by a council of the church. God spoke to him in a dream, bidding him not to regard as unclean that which God called good. Gentiles, who came to him, anointed by the Holy Spirit, changed his mind.

We are hopeful for the future. As our choral anthem reminded us today:

Then hear, O gracious Saviour,
accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favour
may serve you as our king;
and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we'll triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still.*

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

19 May 2019
* From 'O God Beyond All Praising', v. 2.

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