Monday, May 21, 2018

Moving On and Best-before Dates

The whole process of changing jobs as a C of E vicar is a relatively long one, and when you know you have a job, there is usually a bit of a delay before an announcement can be made. So I have had to sit on the fact that I would be moving from Morecambe for about a month. I'm going to be vicar of St Nicholas, Beverley and half-time training adviser for the Archdeaconry of the East Riding. That's in the Diocese of York.

Letters have to be exchanged, and a new DBS certificate obtained (the latter being the main cause of the delay). In the meantime it's all kept confidential to a relatively small group of people until it can be announced officially in the old and new location simultaneously. It's an immense relief to have it all out in the open, so we can begin to work on the handover, and I can start to plan for my move.

A few people have asked why I am going, so I thought I'd blog a few thoughts about moving on.

After Debbie died, I remember being asked if I would move, and I knew at the time that I wasn't going to engage with thinking seriously about that for at least a year. You don't make good decisions in the midst of turmoil, and more importantly I felt that the church community and I needed to grieve and process what had happened together. From time to time I have seen jobs being advertised, and I had no interest in looking at them, so I knew that was the right instinct.

Then something happened which told me that things had changed. Someone I know referred to a post being advertised, and for some reason I took a look at it. As I did so, I realised I was beginning to take quite an active interest, and that I was thinking myself into the situation to see if it was a good fit. In other words, the prospect of moving on had taken a different character.

None of this was a negative reflection on my current church or parish - they've been great. I love Morecambe with its challenges, opportunities, characters, community and creativity. There are so many people, activities and places that I will miss, so it's not an easy decision. Plus it has one of the finest sunset views you'll get anywhere.

A snap I took last night
But it's now over two years since losing Debbie, and at some point I knew I had to make a new start. One of the features of being a clerge is that [almost always] you can't move house and stay in the same job, and you can't move job and stay in the same house. This big old house was a home for four of us and a dog, and now it's just me, except when Ellie is home from university, so increasingly I've felt a need to move on.

Besides that, I have always been very keen in all my appointments not to exceed my "best-before" date. Over the years, I have known a few clergy who weren't aware that they had, and it can have a detrimental effect on them and their ministry. My current parish has lots of good things going on, but I believe it now needs someone who can work with them on the next stage of development. For me to do that would effectively require me to commit to being here until I retire, and I know that wouldn't be the right thing. It's time for someone else with a fresh perspective to be involved in writing the next chapter for Morecambe Parish Church, just as I will be bringing a fresh perspective when I work with my new church at Beverley.

Underlying all of this is the very important principle that no-one is indispensable. That should be true for any organisation; it should be especially true for a church. As I said on Sunday, the life and ministry of this church doesn't depend on me, it depends on the God whose gifts we were celebrating at Pentecost.


Karin said...

This news was a huge shock. You will be brilliant in your new post. But you will be greatly missed by so many of us. The very best of wishes in your new adventure. God bless xx

Mary Bolster said...

Please know that you are very much loved by all of us but especially by the children. Sometimes we fail to tell people how much we think of them so it goes unsaid and nobody hears how much they are appreciated. Well our family are very happy with the way you have welcomed us and helped us on our way.
But it is clearly the right time for you to be moving on and we are very happy for you.

Chris Bourne said...

Congratulations on your new appointment - will be praying for you as you prepare to move house, as you do all the 'goodbye things', as you settle into a new home and a new location

Brian said...

Rectors are dispensable. Friends are not. I really wish you all the best in what sounds like an exciting new opening. It surprises me not one bit that you've reached the point of moving on. You've been a great inspiration, an informed and learned preacher and a damn good mate. Good luck with the new path.

Mike Peatman said...

Thank you, everyone.

Ben Stevenson said...

Congratulations on your new job, and welcome to East Yorkshire. Beverley is a nice town.

Mike Peatman said...

Thank you