Dear Friends

For the last few weeks the nation has gathered each week to clap in recognition of those working on the front-line. It’s been striking how more and more people are now gathering regularly for this Thursday evening event. I have been moved by the selflessness actions of many who have stepped up to the challenges presented to the and faced them head on. An example of this is the many people who signed up or returned from retirement to support the NHS, caring for those, knowing they themselves are will be vulnerable. This is what being called to a vocation truly means and the promises reflect that when embarking on such a profession.

This is my final ‘Martin’s Message’ to you all, as most of you will know by now that Charlotte and I will be moving on to new challenges ourselves. The arrangements for our departure are up in the air at the moment, but we will, once the time is right, move on to a new area, new churches, new people and a new home. All very exciting! In May’s message I pointed out that church is not going to look the same when we emerge the other side of the pandemic. The reality is that this is going to be the fact and I have been inspired by the many inventive ways churches have run towards the challenge. It seems quite apt that God has called me at this time to run towards the new challenges, working with churches to look at new strategic ways of being church, rather than just doing!

We are all venturing into uncharted waters and will do so for many years to come. However, I was struck by one of the ‘Our Daily Bread’ reflections for April titled ‘Run Towards Challenge’. It reflects upon the passage from 2 Kings 6:17 in which Elisha’s servant panicked when he saw his town surrounded by an enemy army. The emotions being exhibited here are not dissimilar to those we are experiencing with the virus; more so being surrounded by a hidden enemy. That is not to say that we should be tempted to put ourselves at risk and be driven by the enemy, but by our faith in God. Jesus was clear during his own temptations not to be drawn in by the enemy, but responded; “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Let us not be persuaded by the enemy, but strive to follow Jesus, for his power is greater than any rival.

There are many questions that will need to be asked before the scattered church can regather, as it won’t be able to revert to the way it was before the Church closed. The question for you all is whether you will run towards the challenge with God?

As I will be leaving as your Minister on 21st June, Charlotte and I wish you every blessing for the future and are so grateful for all the supportive friendships we have made. God Bless you all!

Shalom

Martin