This week the news broke in our church that I would be leaving the congregation in the summer as I have received and accepted a call to serve the Fulneck Congregation in West Yorkshire. Br Michael Newman will be taking over ministerial responsibility for Hornsey.
This will bring about an end to my four and a bit years. here in this congregation and the news brought about a mixture of emotions for me and for my family. We have really enjoyed our time here in this congregation and this area. We've made many friends and had hoped to be here a few more years. On the other hand, the move means we will be significantly nearer family, which, especially after feeling so isolated during lockdown, will be a huge blessing to us as a family.
I thought then I'd take some time in this space to talk about the joy and the challenge of accepting God's call and that however daunting it may be, it is always the right thing to do.
In the Moravian church we manage the placement of ministers by using a "call" system. This means that the ministers do not ask to move or choose where they go. They are simply expected to go where they have been called. The call is issued after much prayerful consideration by our provincial board but it has always been the case that ultimately the call is felt to have come from God. Today this is more of a discussion based process where the ministers opinion and the welfare of their family is taken into consideration. It used to be, and this isn't that far in the past, that you would simply receive a letter in the post telling you where and when you were moving. Thankfully things are a little more compassionate now but the same ethos remains that we are called and expected to accept.
This has it's advantages in that while I was at college, I witnessed my fellow students agonise over where they would choose to go, and there was the knowledge that for some, they simply wouldn't be posted in a church. This has never been the case for me.
The challenge is that we live often in a state of flux. This move will mean that Fulneck will be the 5th church I've served and the 3rd time I'm moved and i've only been in ministry for 8 years. Arguably you can't really count the first call as a "move" but there was still the upheaval and uncertainty in the run up to moving so for this purpose, it counts. It also means that we are left with little choice as to our future. I have found the best way of handling this though is simply to put my trust in God. I say "simply" but sometimes it is anything but simple. However I have learnt from experience that when you do put your trust in God and say "let not my will, but yours be done O God," then you can be assured things will work out and God will go with you.
I need look no further (although I could) than my call to serve Hornsey. We were expecting the arrival of our 2nd child at the time we found out about it. It caused us as a family a great deal of stress and anxiety. London was somewhere we didn't want to live and leaving family and friends behind in this vital and already stressful time in our lives was extremely daunting. However, we said yes and made the move, we trusted God and set off with our newly increased family. Now I look back, now i can see the reason, now i can see the plan, now i know why God called me and my family here. It's often only with hindsight that you can see things more clearly. We have had a wonderful time here. Made some great lifelong friends and I have learnt and grown so much in my ministry. It's almost like God knows what to do isn't it!?!
So now we face another move, another moment of putting our lives in the hands of God, another new chapter, another call answered. I do so trusting in God and learning from the experiences of the past that when you place your lives in the hands of God, things have a way of working out.