Hello Everyone, I hope that you are keeping well. It has been wonderful this past month to welcome more of you back to church as Covid restrictions ease. Simple luxuries such as tea and coffee after the service and being able to sing (albeit with masks) is restoring much back to our fellowship and worshipping communities.
So this Rector Writes column is my farewell to you. Those of you in church, online or in receipt of Worship At Home, or perhaps by word of mouth, will know now that I have been appointed as the new Vicar of Welshpool. Bishop Gregory has invited me to take on the post of Vicar of Welshpool and Mission Hub Specialist for Montgomery Archdeaconry and I have accepted. I will be licensed on Sunday 7 November. You are very welcome to come along!
My last Sunday morning with you will be on Sunday 5 September – which is exactly eight years to the day since I was licensed in Hope in 2013. We move so soon so the children can start in their new schools. The Welshpool schools have been super – the younger children enjoyed a taster day in July and whilst they will miss their friends here, they go looking forward to Welshpool too. Once in Welshpool, I will then begin the study leave element of a sabbatical prior to beginning my new post in November.
It has been an extraordinary time discerning God’s call to Welshpool. I invited a small number of close friends and colleagues to pray for us as we considered Bishop Gregory’s invitation. We received some very encouraging verses of Scripture that we will take with us and pray further into when we have moved.
In particular too, there have been some prompts that I am taking as the Lord’s leading – coincidences or ‘God-incidences’ – and senses of God’s presence on us – that have persuaded Rachel, the children and I, that now is the time for us to make this move.
When Rachel and I first visited St Mary’s Church, Welshpool, we both had a strong sense of God’s presence on us, which we shared with eachother afterwards. Following two further visits to the church, we have sensed God’s Spirit on us again. After meeting the Non Stipendiary Priest, whilst walking out of the church building, I said to Rachel, “I’m really sorry Rach, but I think God is calling us here and the bishop’s staff team might actually have this one right.” Rachel replied, “I wondered when you were going to catch up!” I laughed and said, “And I was waiting for you to realise we are still called to Hope!”
Secondly, still not wanting to give up ‘Hope’, I confess that I had become rather frustrated with Bishop Gregory and his staff team. The staff team – along with the outgoing vicar of Welshpool too – were all convinced that I should be the next Welshpool Vicar. On one occasion, I said to the Archdeacon of Montgomery, “It’s all right you all telling me you think God is calling me here, I just want him to tell me too!”
Then something extraordinary happened. On the day before Bishop Gregory wanted a decision from me (and Rachel and I having prayed with Bishop Gregory previously for a ‘sign’) – I came in from leading the morning church services here and Rachel rather excitedly asked me to listen to the sermon of Liz Rees from the online service of St Michael’s Church, Aberystwyth – the church where Rachel and I first met 18 years ago. Rachel, flicking through her Facebook feed, had come across Liz’ talk (at that point, ‘live’), and curious to know who Liz was, began listening. Liz was speaking on calling and how she had come to be in her present post – and summarised how God can use a ‘Bishop’s Staff Team’ to discern where we clergy are supposed to be!” Amazing. (You can listen to Liz’ talk yourself here on Facebook - https://fb.watch/7vUDv63CEr, 23 minutes in)
The irony of this whole story, is that at the outset Bishop Gregory said to me, “Adam, please consider Welshpool deeply and prayerfully, but know that I would rather you be happy in Hope than reluctant in Welshpool”. In one sense though we do go reluctantly – we could not do otherwise – we have loved being here! Thank you so much for having us and making us all so welcome. It’s been a privilege to serve you as the “Rector of Hope”. But also we now go cheerfully and confidently, excited and expectant, about what God is leading us to ahead.
Please pray for us, as we will pray for you in the vacancy.
In Christ, Adam
Adam’s Final Services
Rev Adam Pawley