This afternoon we bade a fond farewell to our Regional Minister Team leader, Revd Steve Mantle who is heading for South Africa to work for an organsiation called SHINE foundation (there seem to be lots of similarly named organsiations so follow the link to find out more; the home page takes a few moments to load).
Steve has been a good friend to my little church, and a good friend to me, over many years. I first met him almost a decade ago when he was a college Governor and I was a rookie ministerial student convinced I was called to urban (not urbane, cheeky reader) ministry. Ending up in semi-rural Leicetsershire was a bit of a surprise, but kept me in contact with Steve who with our other RM oversaw the NAM reflection groups. Getting involved with the ministers' conference meant I got to work with Steve a bit, which was always good fun, and it was he who, in due course, nominated me as Regional Rep for the Baptist Ministers' Fellowship. More recently he has seen me through the joys (?) of settlement and is almost as pleased as I am at the new call I'm about to follow.
I'll miss Steve, but not as much as he'll be missed by the Association and the Union.
God speed, good friend. May your burdens be light and your risks rewarded.