Thursday morning last week was my last session at the Synod Moderators’ meeting. With Peter sitting alongside me we met with Craig, Secretary for ministries and discussed retirement age for ministers and the number of minsters likely to be serving in the next five years – the two are of course connected. We meet regularly with Craig as so much of our work as Moderators overlaps with his. We are working together to help ministers face the changes that are coming.
One of the regular features of the Moderators’ meeting is ‘new business’. Each Moderator has the opportunity to raise an issue or share a problem and ask for help or advice or encouragement. Each of us might have one or two and some will have more. This is one way in which we support each other and work together as colleagues.
On Saturday there was a Service of Thanksgiving for my forty years service as a minister – it happened on the actual anniversary date of my ordination, 9th July 1971. Some of my previous colleagues were able to come and many churches in the synod were represented. I felt it was a wonderful celebration of ministry and I want to thank everyone who has made my ministry so enjoyable and fruitful. The theme of vocation ran strongly throughout the service. The music reflected the decades in which I have shared in creating worship. It was lovely to have a trio from Friary URC playing before, during and after the service. Duncan, the Synod Clerk, presented a television, cheque and flowers to Joan and myself as thanks from the Synod. I gave my PA, Hannah, my thanks and a gift too. Sunday was family time and it was good to share lunch together before they returned home.
Monday marked the beginning of ‘handover week’, when Peter spent time with me to learn about ministers and churches in the synod. We shared with a small group looking at synod strategy with particular concern for deployment of ministers and financial resources. On Tuesday we were at the meeting of the Finance and Property group. On Wednesday we attended a lunchtime gathering of the Council of Reference of Hope Nottingham, with which we are in partnership in Beeston through our Mission Project @theBoundary. In between times we talked about the Synod Moderator’s role in the movement of ministers between pastorates, and practical issues like claiming expenses as well as sensitive issues concerning ministers and congregations in the Synod.
Handing over is not just about giving information, inevitably there are personal opinions, interpretations and biases to be taken into account. Like giving and receiving gifts – more is going on than simply passing something from one person to another. The handover expresses our relationship, conveys our attitudes and feelings and is a marker of the change that is happening. I think this week’s handover went well.