Saturday, 26 July 2008
A Week of Farewells
This has been a week of farewells.
On Sunday my home Circuit of Salford bade farewell to its Superintendent Minister, Roger Stubbings (pictured).
Roger has been my minister for the last seven years, coming into what was then the Cadishead and Eccles Circuit following the untimely death of Michael Austin.
He has been instrumental in bringing a new Circuit into being and has been a great pastor, as well as taking pioneering practical steps to foster links with the Muslim community.
190 people - including representatives from all his former circuits - sat down for a lunch superbly organised by Julie Herbert. In the evening there was a packed congregation at Patricroft - where the exuberant singing of the French West African congregation from Emmanuel Church cheered Roger on the way to his sitting down.
On Tuesday I was at Methodist Church House where a farewell tea-party was in progress for three of our Co-ordinating Secretaries - Anthea Cox, Jonathan Kerry and Peter Sulston. Tributes were paid by Methodist and ecumenical colleagues; we were reminded of their particular gifts and contributions as the week before we had expressed our gratitude for so many who over the last dozen years have served the Church through its Connexional Team.
Another personal farewell was to Amilcar Solorzano (left), Secretary of the Methodist Church in Guatemala. He had been one of my generous hosts when I visited the country earlier in the year; I had been full of admiration for the significant work he has done to set up the John Wesley College, a primary and secondary school which in the space of a couple of years has acquired an excellent reputation.
I was delighted that he was able to read one of the lessons in Spanish at the Conference Sunday Worship in Scarborough and since then he has been seeing more of Britain in the care of an expert tour guide, the Rev Tom Quenet. This included a visit organised by Paul Flowers to a school in Bradford. He told me how much his Church appreciated the links which are being strengthened with the British Methodist Church - he thought we organised our Conference business very efficiently!- and I shared with him how much I had learnt from the commitment and vision of the church he so impressively but modestly represents.
Finally we said au revoir to the President and pray for travelling mercies as he and Myrtle visit New Zealand before attending the coronation of the new King of Tonga. I for one look forward to his safe return ...!