Page 6 - Moravian Messenger Nov 2021
P. 6

Across the sea to Ireland
A A reflection on on ministry
When we we we enter the the ministry
we we we all all know that we we we we are are subject to to the the Call System whereby we we are are called to to serve a a a a a a a congregation or or or two or or or three by by the Provincial Board For me because I first entered the ministry
as a a a a a a a a a a non-stipendiary minister in in in in 1992 any call had to to take into account the fact that I I was was still employed as as as a a a a a a a a a a teacher so I I I was was only able to serve serve in in my locality I I served the Heckmondwike congregation congregation and
later in in January 1995 the the Wellhouse congregation congregation In November 1996 I I entered the the full-time stipendiary ministry
service so knew that there would be be a a a a a a a time when I was likely to to be be be called to to serve away from my home area I also became the the minister of the the Gomersal congregation in in 1998 It was in 2000 that life changed for me and
my my family when on the 14th March (my husband Roy's birthday) I was asked to to to stay after a a a a a a a a a a meeting at Church House to to to meet meet with the Provincial Board to to to discuss my future ministry
That was a a a a a a a a clear hint to to to Roy and
I that we we were going to to to to be be asked asked to to to to move move But the big question was was where would we be be asked asked to to to to move move to to to We knew it was was was the right time for us to to to move as as as as Paul was was was finishing at University and
was was going on to to to to study for a a a a a a PGCE to to to hopefully enable him to to to fulfil his his lifelong dream of becoming a a a a a a a a PE teacher and
James had finished his his GCSE exams although a a a a a a a a a a a a a year later than usual because of his health problems So the time time was right and
we accepted that Roy and
I spent some time time speculating where we might be asked to to move to to We knew that that Br Br Paul Gubi was retiring that that summer from from Bath and
Br Br Br Leonard Broadbent was retiring from from Belfast Roy said to to to me that if we we were being asked to to to to move move to to to to Bath I I could say 'yes' straight away but if I I I was being asked to to to to move move to to Belfast would would I I say that we would would think about about it Roy had probably more apprehension than me about about moving to to Belfast because he he he had never been to Northern Ireland
it would mean him giving up his job on the the railways where he he he he had worked for 26 years We were not worried about the the political situation as the the Good Friday Agreement had been signed two years previously and
we we were confident that that that the Peace that that that came with that that that would be long lasting Well as as as many of you will know we we we we were were asked to to to go to to to Belfast but we we we we we were were were told that they were were not issuing a a a a a a call at at the the time but really sounding out how we would feel if if a a a a a a a call was issued We asked if if we we could go to Belfast and
see where we we we would be be living So Roy James and
I went incognito to to to to Belfast to to to to be be able to to to to see where we we would would live and
the congregations I would would be called to serve We stayed with Br and
Sr Derrick Woods and
he he took us us around to to show us us the congregations but some from quite a a a a a a a a a distance so so as not to attract attention When we returned from the the trip I contacted the the the PEC and
said that if a a a a a a a a a call call was issued I would accept accept the the call call call We have always accepted that that any call call that that is is is is issued issued by the PEC is is is is issued issued after prayerful consideration and
believing that it would be be the the the the right call for for the the the the minister involved and
also for for the the the the the future of the the the the the church Yet even trusting in in in the the the the wisdom of the the the the PEC it is is sometimes difficult to to understand how they they come come to to the the the the decision they they may come come to to but also from the the the minister's point of view there must be be much thought and
prayer given to accepting a a a a a a a a a a a call because of the the impact it has on on all all the the family Paul still jokingly speaks about being abandoned by us as as he he knew that James would would be be be coming with us and
he he he would would be be staying in in England We knew that other members of the the family would continue to support him and
we we were only a a a a a a a a a a a phone call away away and
also just an an an hour's flight away away So once the decision was made we had had to to make plans The PEC had had called me to to serve the the University Road congregation congregation in in in Belfast the the the Kilwarlin congregation congregation congregation and
the the the Ballinderry congregation congregation I was slightly concerned about the the move because only a a a a a a couple of years previously one Sister from the Irish District had said in in my presence that that she did not think that that that the Irish District was ready to accept a a a a a a a a a a woman minister I I know that that this Sister would now now have a a a a a a a a a different opinion as as the Irish District has certainly had much more experience of having women ministers ministers and
all ministers ministers come with their their own gifts and
talents irrespective of of of their their sex When you you you accept a a a a a a a call you you you often have people who offer you you you advice Br Wilfred Mortimore said that when he he he he moved to to Ireland
he he he he he began to to take the Farmers Weekly magazine as he he he felt more able to to speak to to those members who were involved in in in farming I I must say I I never did that One of the Brethren from one congregation was also heard to say 'But what will she do if there is a a a a a a a problem with the church roof and
she needs to climb up and
inspect it?' That fortunately was never put to the the test but I am sure that the the property steward would have been able to do a a a a a a a good job and
report any problems!!
James and
I returned to to to Belfast in July to to to to to be able to to to to to sort out education for him and
to to to to have the the chance to to to to meet with the the Church Committee at at University Road We sorted out that James would hopefully be accepted at at at what was then known as as the the the BIFHE to study Performing Arts in in September I I met with the the the church committee at the the home of Br and
Sr Woods which was a a a a a a a wonderful social occasion In the course of of conversation I I mentioned that one one of of my concerns was employment for Roy and
Br Jim Finlay said 'The Lord will provide ' ' Very wise words which I have quoted several times since The Lord did provide for Roy Roy because after only a a a a few weeks of Roy Roy going round several employment agencies he he was offered a a a a a a a a job with the Rural Transport Department of of Translink This was just for six months but actually lasted the four years we we were in Belfast I would like to to to be able to to to say that that the move to to to Belfast went smoothly but that that would not be quite true as as when Roy and
I arrived at the the the the port in Heysham for the the the the ferry to to Belfast with the the the the the the caravan on the the the the the the back of the the the the car car we we we we were were told that the the the the ferry was cancelled and
we we we we were were given three hours to to to travel to to to Stranraer We arrived with just ten minutes to to to spare The first Sunday when I I began my ministry
I I was to to go to to Ballinderry for the service at at 7 pm We had planned our our journey (no sat nav then) but when we reached the the the motorway there was a a a a a a a a a a a big sign that said 'Road closed' and
we we had no other other plan We followed the the the other other vehicles but it it was quite a a a a a a a a traffic jam through Lisburn to finally arrive at Ballinderry with Br Joe Cooper standing at at the the door wondering what had happened Again we got there about five minutes to seven with the the congregation already in in in place just waiting for us We moved to to to Belfast in in August and
in in October we we were told that the the manse was was suffering with subsidence and
the the the middle of of the the the house house was was sinking fast The Bible story of of the the house house built on sand came to to mind and
I just hoped that my ministry
would be built on firmer ground

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