Eight years ago this weekend, I was inducted as minister of the Gathering Place. At the first Sunday service, we planted some hyacinth bulbs and I spoke about new beginnings (like you do!). Since then we have shared in all sorts of adventures, joys and sorrows, disappointments and delights, experiments and innovations. For me, it has been a great eight years, and I look forward to many more to come (were anyone in any doubt, my plans for redecorating and adding more fitted furniture to the manse hopefully demonstrate that)
Twenty years ago, I was baptised as a believer in Warrington Baptist Church, a fellowship that has had its fair share of challenges and tragedies, as well as moments of joy and wonder. It was a very special day, and I cherish the memories of the people who were there and the love we shared. Within a few weeks I'd experienced an incredibly profound sense of calling to ordained ministry, and two years later moved to Manchester to start training.
Both my previous church, at Dibley, and the Gathering Place have their church anniversaries (no longer marked) at the start of October. Gathering Place is 134 years old, Dibley 262... That's a lot of Sundays, a lot of sermons and prayers, a lot of Church Meetings, a lot of laughter and tears, frustration, deliberation, innovation, congregation... And I am proud and privileged to be part of the story of these two church who, in life, share the same initials.
Happy birthday, churches... and happy dunkiversary to me!