A Pilgrim’s Progress or Jenny’s Journey-so far
As I retire from the Upper Tas Valley Benefice I am looking back on half a lifetime of living in Tacolneston. I remember going to Tacolneston Church for the first time on a November morning in 1978 the congregation of 7 or so was scattered round the church and the rector, Henry Brierly stopped on his way down to the front of the church to welcome the stranger. it was a happy start. This led the following March to joining the PCC of the church and becoming more involved with the life of the church and attending the fellowship group at Chris and Ann’s home and growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ amongst people who were on the same journey. We learnt new songs and studied the Bible and prayed and shared our experiences and insights..
When my first daughter was born I took her to the fellowship group in her carrycot but it was not long before I had a group meeting in the afternoon in my home under Rachel Matthew’s leadership. A group continued to meet in my home for the next 25 years –We read and studied a lot of the Bible in that time- in fact we read through the whole Bible using ‘The Way of the Spirit’ Bible reading course over a period of 5 years. That group is the Tuesday Fellowship.
In 1981 a new Team Vicar came with more new songs and experience of renewal in worship and that enabled the churches to grow more. Mission England was a great outreach initiative of the mid 1980s and led to the formation of prayer triplets; three people praying for three of their friends and perhaps inviting them to Carrow Road to hear Billy Graham. For me personally this was a significant time in my spiritual journey and my understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Then John Wimber’s teaching and insights also had an impact on me and others in the parishes. I, and several other people attended national conferences in different parts of the country and came back with a new understanding of what God can do. and wonder at his mighty acts. I also used to attend a ‘Kingdom Faith’ summer camp each year to which I took my daughters. These gave us all the amazing and encouraging experience of worshipping with thousands of other Christians. I had felt a call to be a Reader for several years before I finally came back from a summer camp with the challenge from one of the speakers at the camp to ‘go home and to take the next step in what you feel God is calling you to do. So I did and in 1992 I started training as a Reader and in 1995 I was licensed in Norwich Cathedral. At that licensing service I had a sense of hearing the words ‘For such a time as this’ –I had to look them up to see if they were in the Bible –they were in the book of Esther but what did that mean?
I continued to exercise that ministry for the next 9 years but with the encouragement of a new rector I had begun to explore ministerial training and became an ordinand in 2001 on the Norwich Ordained Local Ministry Course. The course was not without its stresses and strains but was completed and I was ordained deacon in Norwich Cathedral on October 2nd 2004 and made priest in Tacolneston Church the following October. And then continuing training for several more years to complete my curacy. The phrase that was been important in all these years has been ‘mobilising and strengthening my people’ an understanding that what I had done physically in my career as a physiotherapist I was to do in another spiritual sense.
Our journey’s are not without valleys and obstacles of all kinds but we are urged by scripture to ‘persevere’ and also to ‘just stand’ in some situations.
Over the past 3 years I have found the book ‘The Grace Outpouring’ inspirational and encouraging for ways in which I can seek to bless our communities.
in January of last year circumstances led to a move from Tacolneston to Tasburgh and a growing desire of the need, for me, to be more involved in the life of the church and parish where I now live. I retire on July 31st but the Bishop has given me ‘Permission to Officiate’ so I can continue to exercise a priestly ministry at the invitation ofparishes. I am intending to take some months off for rest and restoration and to seek God’s guidance for the next part of this pilgrim’s journey.
There have been so many fellow travellers in all these years. Some travel on some of them have reached journeys end and some are now travelling with others.
So these words of Dag Hammarskjöld seem appropriate
‘For all that has been thanks. For all that will be, yes ‘