Pastor's  Message    January 2020

Well … this is it … in the words of Frank Sinatra, ‘And now the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain’ …. EXCEPT I hope I can say that instead of doing it ‘My Way’ … we did it ‘God’s Way’, as best we could!

After 14 years and 4 months as Minister, it is time to say ‘Goodbye.’

It is a very strange feeling for me because it was 15 years ago that I came to be interviewed by the Leadership – January 2005 – it is a long time ago, but in many ways it seems that the time has flown by.

I believe that many things have changed in the Church over that time – hopefully mainly for the good! The most important thing for me is that I hope and pray my Ministry has in some ways touched peoples lives for the good – that through my Ministry here at VBC that God has transformed lives.

The transformation to the physical building has been enormous during this time – and I believe has helped this building become a tool which has enabled us as Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the Community, bringing people closer to a loving and caring God.

Part of my brief when I came, was to lead a major building project (almost £1 million), to enable the Church to be at the heart of the Community. And, today, you can come down to the Church on almost any day of the week, and find it buzzing with all sorts of activities going on – from Counselling groups …. to baby Ballet etc etc.

During the latter years, we employed a part-time Youth Minister, Stefan, to start to reach children and young people in the Community, and to help to retain and grow our teenagers in the Church. And I am delighted to have worked with Stefan over these past years, and to see over 40 young people regularly attending our Friday night clubs.

Of course, all the regular things a Minister has to do, still go on – from preaching, leading worship, visiting those in need, taking funerals and weddings etc. And it has been my delight and privilege to have been able to be involved in the crucial times of the lives of families in this Church – both the good times … but, especially, the sad times. Thank you.

Of course, as my Ministry comes to a close here at VBC, it also brings to a close almost 30 years of full-time ministry, where I have had the great pleasure of serving in 3 churches, Kings Road Evangelical church in Berkhamsted, Sudbury Baptist Church in Suffolk, and here at VBC. It has been an exciting, and at times ‘interesting’ journey, but through it all I believe that somehow God has been able to use a short, pretty insignificant man, with a stutter! to bring God’s Word week after week – and I have been amazed at what God has done in people’s lives. PTL!

During my time at VBC there are too many people to name and thank each and everyone personally, for your help and support during my time here. I would, though, like to thank the 5 Church Secretaries who have helped me during this time. I have also greatly appreciated the work of the many Ministry Leaders who have served alongside me during my time here. Thank you. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have done without the wonderful work of the Pastoral Care Team, who have ministered to the elderly and vulnerable people in this Church.

Thank you to those of you in this Church who have encouraged and supported me (and Sylvia) during my ministry here -  through the highs and the lows – it has been greatly appreciated. A special thanks to Monica, not only for her work with the Mission Team, but also, her constant notes of encouragement to me. Many thanks Monica.

 

There has been one person in the Church, though, who has worked with me, and joined the staff, at the same time as I did – and that’s Fiona. She has worked tirelessly in the office (along with her team of Ann and Davida), to support me in my work here – day in and day out. Without that help and support, I would have fallen off the cliff a loooong time ago. Thank you so much. Fiona also spent most of my years here as my Worship Team leader – she has done a brilliant job, I believe, in working with me, to take the Church forward in worship. I worked out some time ago, that we had taught nearly 100 new songs to the Church during my time here (I can hear some of you groaning at that, right nowJ). But I hope and pray that most of you have been helped in your worship through the new AND the old songs we have sung.

Thank you, Fiona.

 

And, finally, thank you to Sylvia for all she has done, not only in the past 15 years in the Church, but throughout my 30 years of Ministry. She has been there through thick and thin – she has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly! and yet has been there, to support me. But not only that, the Church has much to be grateful for because of the Ministries Sylvia has been involved in –whether her musical gifts; working with our Young people (Grape 7, Youth Alpha, the Community choir etc etc). And for cooking so many lovely meals for all those we were able to have round to the Manse.

And on top of all this has been Head Teacher of 2 schools here in Kent – a massive job in itself.

Thank you, Sylvia for all you have done.

 

And now, we and the Church move on. You to a new Minister, Pastor Andrew, and his wife Alice, and their family. I pray that you will give him and his family your full support, as you seek to find God’s will for the way forward for this Church.

And for myself and Sylvia – well it’s down to Hampshire, to be closer to some of our family, and to make a fresh start – and to discover what God has in store for us over the coming months, and years (in His will).

 

God bless you all.

Jim

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