July 2019

Dear Friends,

As I come towards the end of my time in Crosby Circuit, there are many thoughts flooding my mind.

The first is gratitude for so many people who with whom we have become friends as we have journeyed together. In each church in the circuit, we have found people who love the Lord and want to serve him, people who have encouraged us and given us hope and people who have grown in their own faith journey.

It is an act of great generosity to invite a complete stranger to care for something so precious as the church that you hold dear, and yet that is what Methodist people do in every act of stationing. I remember still the snowy day in January 2013 when Alison, Fiona and I ventured west to Crosby for the first time and were welcomed by members of the circuit, no doubt wondering who this probationer was that they were receiving. I am so grateful for the relationships that have developed since that day and for the many blessings we together have received.

My second thoughts are ones of hope. In each church, I have met people of faith who earnestly want the gospel to be spread to the community around. I have been deeply impressed by the spirituality that I have found, embracing a deep love for God and seeking him more. I have seen some people taking their first tentative steps into mission and others working strongly to overcome the challenges in reaching out to their community in love. I have seen and experienced the pastoral care that is evident in each church as our well-being allows.

I am thrilled to see Blundellsands seeking to come together with Crosby URC in what can only be a blessing going forward; also to see St. Mark’s striving to engage with their local community, carrying on the tradition of the last sixty years; to see Waterloo faithfully seeking new ways of being church in that community; watching Moor Lane finding imaginative means of reaching out into their locality and working other local churches; and Formby engaging in so many means of outreach and pastoral support.

That doesn’t mean that we can rest on our laurels. The challenges ahead are severe and will call on all our strength, resolve and faith. I urge you therefore to do more, to work with those whom God brings alongside you, both in the church and outside.

Jesus often used parables and similes in thinking about things, and I find it helpful to draw parallels from other sources. Paul talks about running the race, but in Methodism, this is a relay race. I received the baton from John and from Terry, and I hand it over to Karen when she comes. The analogy is not quite right, however, for I move to start another race in Bury and you are still running this race here. Perhaps, a better analogy would be the triathlon, swimming, cycling and then running. Having completed one section, we still have another section still to start. Again, it doesn’t quite work for these are individual sports, and we are called to work together. Imagine, therefore, a relay three-legged race where for each part of the race, we are joined together with another partner and must work together to cross the line. It takes effort, cooperation, give and take, understanding, love and encouragement to find the best way of going forwards. I hope and pray that you will offer Karen and her family all these when she comes.

Above all, invite God to be God in all this. When all is said and done, he can do far more than we can, if we will only let him. Someone once said that church is finding out what God is doing and joining in.

I leave you with Paul’s great doxology from his letter to the Ephesians:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

With love and prayers for you all,

David