From the Rectory
February 2006

The past few weeks have been for me, full of activity. Lots of new things to consider and so many new faces to put a name to. It has been a very steep learning curve. I so very much want to get things right for you - and for me!. I have to learn of your traditions and particular ways of doing things. It is all new and only time will enable me and you to relax, we need to build that essential bond of trust that only time will bring about.

During my first week here I have been into school three times, visited someone in hospital, made three home visits, written three sermons, presided at four Communion services, I twice officiated at evensong, been to a meeting of Churches Together in Shirley and had three meetings at the Rectory. I have begun to prepare a couple for their Wedding in April and arranged to call Banns of Marriage for another. There has been a Service of Compline, and I have experienced my first meeting of the PCC. All of that as well as finding a dentist and a doctor willing to accept Lys and me on their books, in the case of a NHS dentist a particularly difficult thing to do - we're still looking!

Although returning to Southampton is as Bishop Paul said, something of a coming home, it is a return to a place that has changed in many respects from eight years ago, but it does feel familiar and I have no doubt that I am now where God wants me to be.

The Licensing Service was wonderful, and both Lys and I thank you for all that you did to make us feel so very welcome, and you didn't really know what you were getting did you! I went into school the next day, the hall now silent, and I asked to be given just a moment to stop and hold in my memory all that had happened the previous evening. To remember my family and friends gathered in that hall, now empty, but with that reception, and all of those people now held within the history of the school.

There were people present from many aspects of my past, family, friends, fellow clerics, people from Maybush, where I was a Curate, a lady that I once employed and shared the stage with, and of course those good folk of Knights Enham that we had so recently said farewell to. Emotions ran high, and as I said, I felt somewhat 'drunk', on a high, and it will remain forever in my memory as a very special evening.

What will the future hold? I wonder, where will we find ourselves in a year's time, in five year's time? Those were the questions that I put to the PCC when they met. Not to try to catch them out or indeed even expecting an answer, but we do need to plan for the future, our future. If we don't plan for the future we won't have one. The PCC will be going away for an 'Away Day' on Saturday 29th April. We will brain-storm and come up with, I hope, a strategy for the next few years.

The PCC are your representatives, and if you think that there are things that should be on the list for us to consider please let one of them know. The more information we have, the better will be the debate.

The challenges of a new job are for anyone, immense. For the clergy particularly so. Few jobs have such expectations attached, none have God at the centre in quite the same way as the Priest might experience it. You look and see me, I look and see hundreds of faces, all with a name that needs to be remembered. I'm beginning to get to know you, and time will add the names. I look forward to hearing your stories, walking the way of Christ with you and to worshipping alongside you. God has brought us together, he has a purpose for us, let us give thanks and walk humbly with our God. With every blessing and for God's sake,