As I begin my time with as Acting Rector, the first thing I want to say is how lovely it was last Sunday to be so warmly welcomed by the folks we met at each of the three services Heather and I attended. It speaks so much about this church that newcomers can feel the friendly atmosphere and be engaged so quickly in conversation.
The second thing I want to say is to acknowledge the obvious dedication and capacity of all the members of the staff. At my first meeting with them on Tuesday it was clear to me that this is a team that is committed to the gospel and to the members of this church. How fortunate you are to be served by such people. Of course behind the friendliness of the church and the quality of the team is the ministry of Nigel Fortescue. Your loss is certainly St Ives’ gain.
Then there is me. I ask myself, ‘what can I do to add value to you folks while the search goes on for your new senior minister?’ The first thing I want to try to do is preach the gospel with all my heart. We Christians are like people who have been plucked from a raging sea. We’re okay, but what about those who are not yet saved? That is where gospel preaching comes in. If people don’t hear the gospel when they come to church, where else will they hear it? So whatever else I do, gospel preaching is on the top of the list.
The second thing (but not the last) is to do all I can to keep the wheels running so that this year will not turn out to be a year of simply marking-time. That so often happens in churches that are between senior ministers. This does not mean that I want to start a revolution, rather that the momentum of gospel growth will be maintained so that the new leader will be able to ‘hit the ground running.’
I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord and you at this time and my prayer is that this period will turn out to be for the glory of God and for your good.