I’m 68 years old, and according to the URC practice at 68 years of age we are to stand down from full time ministry, and Sawston Free Church with Castle Camps URC is certainly a full time post. And I’ve loved it.
The feelings are mixed about leaving. On one side, the churches I have loved working with are still right in the centre of my heart, and I applaud both churches for wanting to bless their communities by their presence. Both churches work with the understanding they are there to be Christ’s love and care for their community. I’m so fortunate to have been a part of them both, and I leave here to go and do what hasn’t been done for a long time: spend time with my family, my children and grandchildren, see again my old friends from Australia, catch up with my brothers and sisters.
Ministry is never seen in our part of the church, as being about preaching and running a church. Ministry is being who God has shaped you to be, wherever your feet may take you. So the organist, the guitar player, the Brigades Leader, the flower arranger, the person with a saw and hammer in their hand, that is their ministry. And so is being a dad, a grandad, a wife, a mum, a geneticist, a farmer, an athlete; what God calls us to do, if it is done with a sense of serving God by serving the world, with grace and love and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, then it is ministry. I won’t ever be a retired minister. I just may not be the Reverend given charge of a church. I might be just Bruce, who volunteers in the National Park or with my daughter’s library, or my son’s History Outreach programme. But like any one of you, it will be ministry.
Huge, massive, extraordinary thanks to all you folk who went way beyond comprehensible limits to make my farewell a simply wonderful occasion. Thank you to you all in my communities who have been my friends, my mates, my companions in all sorts of weird and wonderful endeavours. Thank you to my churches who have set me free to do and be all that, both in and outside of the church. Thanks to my wife Sharn who’s been a fantastic loving support for me, and thanks so much to the leaders in my churches who have advised, encouraged and prayed for me at every step.
I will always be so pleased to hear from any one of you, so God bless and keep you and whoever you choose to fill the vacancy. Just please, never say to that person, “Bruce did it this way.” Let God gift you with whatever the new minister has, and I’m sure that person will also be blessed by you.
Love and blessings. Keep walking the way, striving to live the life of Jesus, today.