This is my final month with you all at St Barnabas, and you are now preparing for the appointment of a new minister in June. For all of you, the years with your previous minister, Brian, will be firm in your memory, and when a leader leaves, you miss them because you are used to working with them and then along comes a locum who is with you for just a few months which takes more adjusting, and then another change follows when the new vicar arrives.
While change can be a time for the release of new energies and new ideas, it can also be a time of uncertainty because there is now a break from familiar patterns, and this can be unsettling for a time. However, it’s important to allow new ideas and new ways and not to fear the future, but rather to embrace new ways even if they are unsettling at first.
Naturally, a new appointment will be caring not to take actions which are too soon or too different, but at the same time must be given the space to lead the church into growth and health. Leadership styles are always related to the gifts of the person appointed, and as a congregation recognises what the leader is ‘a natural’ at doing, it’s important to support his gifting.
In the early Methodist church, when appointments of clergy were made, the election committee would ask the question, “does he have gifts?” and they would recognise those gifts. For some, it was organisational, for others, it was as a prayer warrior, and some would be powerful in preaching and teaching. Whatever the case, they would honour the gifting of the person and encourage that gift. God the Holy Spirit of course provides gifts for everyone in the body of Christ, and I think I could outline many of you and your gifts here at St Barnabas, which is evident in your worship and leadership and in quiet background service.
While every church wants the Archangel Gabriel for their leader, that of course never happens. Instead, new appointments will bring their humanity and frailties as well as their gifts, and together with the humanity and frailties of the gathered people amazingly God does his work. The great bonding ingredient is of course love. St Paul speaks a great deal about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but then makes the simple point that without love we are just a noisy gong or tinkling cymbal. It is a church where members love each other, care about each other, forgive and pray for each other, put up with each where Gods presence is most powerful. May God bless you all as you prepare for the future with your new Vicar.