LETTER FROM A MINISTER
Saying “goodbye” is extremely painful. The French “au revoir” is much more gentle. “Goodbye” has finality about it. A moment, a time, a relationship has ended. There is heartache and tears. We may not meet again. It is a sort of death.
In October we have to say “goodbye” to Newport Pagnell (and Lathbury and Moulsoe, where I have also been the Rector). It has been six happy years. Elena and I have loved our time here. We have lived in a strong community with great churches and so many wonderful Christian people.
Together, as Christian churches we have striven to show our love for God and God’s love for people. There have been so many happy times, wonderful occasions and memories to cherish. I hope during my time here to have strengthened my churches for mission and service by encouraging faithful Christian communities which share in the love of God and want to share His love with others.
But now we must go our separate ways as I go into retirement. In retirement Elena and I will be living in Bidford-on-Avon, which is six miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. Elena hopes to continue working for World Vision. We also hope to be able to spend far more time with family − with children and grandchildren in Ireland (where my son John is an Anglican priest); in Brighton; and with eldest son, David and his family who are only thirty minutes’ drive away from our new home. My intention is to retire as a rector but not from being a priest. Leading worship and sharing God’s love with people will, I hope, continue in the local churches. As a recently retired clergy friend has told me “when I was a vicar at least I used to get one day off a week, now I get none”.
The Anglican churches will also be going their separate ways. By faith, commitment and teamwork together hopefully they will build on the developments of the last few years, becoming stronger and striving further to serve God.
The Church of England does not start the official recruitment process for replacing an incumbent [vicar/rector] until after the previous incumbent has left the post. Inevitably there will be a gap of several months. My prayer is that a new rector will be appointed who will lead the Anglican churches forward in mission and work alongside the other town churches in being outward-looking communities of faith.
Saying “goodbye” is difficult and painful: it is a sort of dying. I hope we can say goodbye with so much to be thankful for and with so many happy
memories, believing in faith that there is indeed new life after death for all of us.
Reverend Michael Godfrey
Rector Newport Pagnell with Lathbury & Moulsoe