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Summer 2024 Pastoral Letter from the Superintendent

revd john hellyer  gloucestershire superintendent methodist minister

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the quaint terms used by the Methodist Church, a recent gathering of the Presbyteral session of the Synod gave me permission to "sit down". Many people would call it retiring. In the church we do not because ordination is for life so is the call to discipleship. Every year at the Presbyteral Synod we are asked to affirm again that we remain convinced that God has called us to ordained ministry. This is something I have always gladly done.

Church life in this country and our role in society is very different now from when I first sat in my study in Bradford on 1st September 1984 and worked out what I was going to do with the day. Consequently, I have found myself in unexpected places and spend my time doing things I never expected ministry to involve. Many I have enjoyed, others not so much. However, discipleship and ministry are never just about the things we do. It is about the people we are in Christ. That is people who experience the freedom and fullness of God's Spirit which by God's grace means we can be transformed into the people God wants us to be.

For a long time, I have been helped to understand God's calling by words from the ordination service of the Methodist Church in Singapore which are about the calling of the whole people of God.

Called to Something Smaller

We are not ordaining you to ministry; that happened at your baptism.

We are not ordaining you to be a caring person; you are already called to that.

We are not ordaining you to serve the Church in committees, activities, organisation; that is already implied in your membership.

We are not ordaining you to become involved in social issues, ecology, race, politics, revolution, for that is laid upon every Christian.

We are ordaining you to something smaller and less spectacular: to read and interpret those sacred stories of our community, so that they speak a word to people today; to remember and practice those rituals and rites of meaning that in their poetry address human beings at the level where change operates; to foster in community through word and sacrament that encounter with truth which will set men and women free to minister as the body of Christ.

We are ordaining you to the ministry of the word and sacraments and pastoral care. God grant you grace not to betray but uphold it, not to deny but affirm it, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As I move on, it is unlikely that I will be replaced this year because there are not enough presbyters available. Please pray for, support and understand the additional demands this will place on the ministers who will continue to serve you. In particular please remember Jayne Webb and Michelle Ireland who will be sharing the responsibilities of the Superintendency next year. Jayne will also be taking on pastoral charge of St John's, Northgate.

With every blessing,
Revd John Hellyer

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