Announcement from Fr Simon
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Monday, 15th February, is the 25th Anniversary of my Induction as Vicar of St Martin’s, Ruislip. In some ways, 15th February 1996 feels like yesterday!
The years have shot past, but much has happened. We’ve done a lot together in terms of mission, re-ordering the interior of the church building (twice), developing liturgy with seasonal variations, nurturing young people and adults in the faith, working in partnership with BWI, BR and our other local schools, developing a variety of lay ministries, training and launching curates into parish ministry, going on pilgrimages and visits to Walsingham, to the Abbey of Bec, to Taize, to places in and around Tours associated with St Martin, to the Holy Land, Romania and elsewhere….
Most of all I feel a huge sense of gratitude for all the fun we’ve had and all the love and support I’ve received as I have tried to serve you and the mission of St Martin’s in a rapidly changing culture and a changing world. Undergirding everything has been the steady, life-giving rhythm of prayer: the Daily Office and Mass, with a wonderful number of people participating on weekdays as well as Sundays, as well as the faithful work of the Prayer Support Group.
This summer I shall have been a priest for 40 years. I’m hoping and the churchwardens have kindly agreed, that we might have some kind of celebration that will draw us all together, on Saturday 10th July at midday, perhaps out of doors in the churchyard, weather permitting.
I’m writing to you now to say that this will also be the occasion at which I say “Farewell.” I shall be retiring as Vicar of this parish, but I won’t cease to be a priest: that is for life! Plans are in place for me to continue having an active ministry supporting the life of the Church in the rural community in the Diocese of Salisbury where Nikki and I will be living.
All the signs are that by July, we will be in a far happier place than we are now, certainly with the increasing rollout of the vaccine. St Martin’s is also, currently, in a strong position to cope with an interregnum, having two young and gifted curates, strong and competent lay leadership and the support of active retired priests. Our priority during the coming months must now be to make sure we have key people in place to re-imagine, rebuild and sustain those areas of our life and mission which have been put on hold since the first lockdown in March last year.
An interregnum can be a challenging time for a parish church, but it can also a time with exciting potential during which, not infrequently, undiscovered gifts emerge from within a congregation. It is an opportunity to reflect on what you want for the future of St Martin’s and what are the qualities you might hope for in a new parish priest who can work with you in forming fresh vision for the future. But the interregnum does not start until the current incumbent has gone, so there’s no need to get ahead of ourselves, or get into a panic!
Let’s focus now on making sure that everything is in place for the period of time when St Martin’s will be without a vicar, to run smoothly. Our church has deep spiritual roots, a deep and living anglo-catholic spiritual tradition, a large (by CofE standards) congregation and thus significant resources on which to draw. Priests come and then move on; people come and go… “but the Church of Jesus, constant will remain.”
My very best wishes and prayers for you all,