LETTER FROM THE MANSE. email@example.com June 2014
It was Harold Wilson who said “A week is a long time in politics”. I wonder what could be said about 25 years in ministry? And in the same congregation! By the time you read this, I shall have been your minister for 25 years, having been ordained and inducted to the charge of Carnoustie Panbride on 20th June 1989.
Where have the years gone!? In looking back to that time, I can remember the excitement when I was able to start looking for a charge. In those days there were a lot of probationers looking for their first charge in parish ministry, compared to the present day. Some of my colleagues took the view that they would apply for everything that came up. I decided to respond only to those which immediately caught my eye. There were two.
Submitting the applications, both congregations responded by saying they wanted to hear me conduct worship in Netherlee, where I was Assistant Minister. Both then wanted me to meet the whole vacancy committee and give them all the opportunity to meet me. So it was that I travelled to Arbroath to preach in Arbroath St Andrew’s for the Vacancy Committee of Carnoustie Panbride, before travelling to “another part of Scotland” the following week.
I can recall the surprise of some of my colleagues when I withdrew my name from the process after meeting the Vacancy Committee in “another part of Scotland” which left me with only one possibility. I can remember saying to them – “well, if it isn’t to be Carnoustie Panbride, then it will be somewhere else!”
However, I can honestly say that the day I met the Vacancy Committee had a good feeling (for me at least!) about it. The day had started off with a lovely surprise. As I walked down the aisle of St Andrew’s Arbroath to meet Ian McLeod, the then minister, I heard him say to someone “Well, is it him?” I looked up and there standing at the organ was someone from my past. I exclaimed “Miss Milne!” who had been my teacher at King’s Park Secondary School in the 1960’s and who had allowed me to accompany some of her choirs. She had also played the piano at the Sunday School in my home congregation. I had not seen her for about 20 years. She was now Mrs Miller, but we both decided that she had been a very young teacher and I had been a very young pupil!
Anyway, I was invited to be Sole Nominee and after conducting worship to a packed church, the day you elected me as your minister was very special. And over the last 25 years I have appreciated the friendship and support which has been given. I have enjoyed our journey together over these years.
There have been the difficult situations, there have been happy times and there have been sad times. Funerals now, more often involve people I have known for 25 years, even with funerals of people not associated with the church. Weddings and baptisms are some of the good times – it is lovely being able to baptise the children of people I have married (I am still waiting to marry someone I have baptised!!) and a recent wedding gave me my first hat trick – officiating over the years at the marriages of all three of the children!
In my very first Letter from the Manse in 1989, referring to the “Church family” I wrote these words:- “A family made up of people of all ages, in which there is a place for everyone. A family which takes care of those who area in need, ensuring that no-one in the family is forgotten or neglected. In the years ahead, may all of us together work for the strengthening of the family of Carnoustie Panbride”.
Times may have changed, but that should still be what we are about. There is still plenty to be done in the years ahead and in thanking you, the congregation, for giving me the great privilege of being your minister these 25 years, I look forward to continuing our journey together.
Yours, with grateful thanks