On Saturday 21st July, we held a special service to celebrate shared times and pray for Beth, our Team Pioneer Curate, and her family as they prepare to move on to a new minsitry in Northstowe at the end of August.
“Wow! Thank you to everyone who came to my leaving service and party. It was such a special afternoon, with friends from across all the villages. I have loved being here with you, and will definitely be taking a bit of Lordsbridge into Northstowe with me. The presents that I’ve received from the team, and from various individual communities, have been really special. THANK YOU and may God Bless you all!”
Our short service in the St Mary’s Sunday Club garden, with the fire lit beside us, started with people decorating stones. Representatives of various villages then brought up symbolic objects to mark our praise to God — a map of the world; a jigsaw; a coffee cup; a bible; stones; and a lit candle — before we sang “Glory to God!” Our reading came from 1 Peter 2:2-10 (dramatised for four voices) introducing the idea of God using each of us as Living Stones. This was followed by this peom:
“God’s Dry Stone Wall”
So many stones,
small, large, smooth, jagged, new, old,
fitting into this craggy, jigsaw body,
different sizes, different shapes.
All vital, all part of a bigger picture,
not a construction designed to keep others out,
but a welcoming, generous temple,
a kind of place to call home,
a lighthouse, a divine landmark,
a place where all varieties of stone may fit together.
Standing on the kind of rock that many overlook:
the kind of rock that will stand forever.
by Dave Hopwood © Engage Worship
Beth had chosen this passage — and the poem — for her leaving service because the concept of living stones matters both in her new role, and here in our vilalges. Beth feels that she is being called move to Northstowe, currently a building site, where many houses are being built… but more importantly called to help build a new community of God’s people: made of living stones. But it speaks to Lordsbridge too. It reminds us how much the ‘royal priesthood’ of everyone here in Lordsbridge matters: how we are all called to be living stones in the places where God has put us, building welcoming, generous communities. “Standing on the kind of rock that many overlook: the kind of rock that will stand forever.” To remind us of this, she invited everyone to take one of the decorated stones home with them.
Afterwards, there was an opportunity to pray for the Lordsbridge villages, for Beth and her family, and for the wider needs of the world, before we commisioned each other — whether staying or going — using these words adapted from the Iona Abbey worship book.
Those staying: God guide your feet and minds as you leave; may you travel on safely, and find true companions on the way
Beth & her family: God be in your hands and hearts as you wave goodbye, and when you welcome others as you have welcomed us
Those staying: God be in your lives as you travel on
Beth & her family: God be with you always, constant companion, guardian, friend and guide.
All: May God’s blessing be ours on our pilgrim way,all the nights and days of our journey.
Later on, we shared in delcious camp fire sauasages, with plenty of salads and some wonderful puddings. Presents were also exchanged. Thank you to everyone involved!
Here are a few pictures…
If you missed the news of Beth’s departure: the following message is from Bishop Stephen’s office: “Given the increasingly rapid development at Northstowe there is now an urgent need for the church to engage with the local community and the Church of England primary school there. Bishop Stephen has invited Beth to be seconded from the Lordsbridge Team to Northstowe for the coming academic year, in order that her pioneering gifts and experience can be used there. “
Beth’s last day in Lordsbridge will be 31 August and she will be working with the local team to hand over activities to lay and ordained colleagues between now and then.