Note: “A day late and a dollar short”, as they say in my homeland! Apologies to all for the delayed posting of this message, but warm wishes to you all for the summer break. There will be no August message as the vicar takes a couple of weeks’ worth of summer rest, but we’ll be back in September. Meanwhile …
Dear Friends …
At the end of June, three people were ordained deacon, and it struck me that weekend that all of them, in one way or another, are connected with us: the Rev’d Matt Davis, now curate of Cyncoed, who till very recently has managed the Lab community in Alway, which serves as a key point of mission outreach in East Newport; the Rev’d Stephen Blewett from our sister parish, Holy Trinity, Christchurch; and, of course the Rev’d Sally Ingle-Gillis, who in the Wentwood parishes is now Ministry Area Leader, but in this parish also wears the “Mrs. Vicar” hat. (I keep wondering if I’m now “Mr. Vicar” in Wentwood.)
Reflecting a little further on this happy coincidence, a corollary also occurs: that here is evidence that our prayers and our active work for God’s Kingdom can easily have a far wider reach than we might expect. Here are three people who — to one extent or another — have worked in or with our parish & ministry area, near our area, around and about our area, they have traded stories and experience with our clergy and our laity, lived lives in close proximity, and — though one remains close at hand — the other two are now taking out into new places their experiences of life in Christ in East Newport.
Although each of these particular deacons will not be far, and although we form only one of a number of chapters in their lives, yet their formation as ministers and evangelists here is now being brought to bear on new people that many of us have never met, but who nonetheless seek the same grace that we have found in God. Our community of faith has reached out, to one degree or another, and been brought to bear on the wider world. In the same way, my own ministry, though I have served it entirely in the Diocese of Monmouth, has been shaped in a myriad little ways by my life, community, and clergy in Texas — ways that shine through weekly to every parishioner here. (To take two small but visible examples, my use of the “comfortable words” in the eucharist and my mention of paradise in the final blessing both come straight from the example of Fr. Joseph “Buddy” Schley of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Laguna Park, Texas.)
The point is that, just as Fr. Schley probably never imagined — and certainly does not know — that I’d one day be so inspired as to repeat weekly his words and style of prayer day after day in South Wales, so too might we never imagine what effects our words, our love, our grace, and our doings in Christ’s name may have on many other human beings in other parts of Wales, or in other parts of the world. But that lack of knowing does not make it untrue. For I know, as do you now, that Fr. Schley’s ministry is a part of Maindee’s and Lliswerry’s standard worship. Who knows, therefore, where your labours and love may have gone?
We are a part not simply of a community here in East Newport, but — in a very tangible way — a community that stretches through diocese, province, nation, and the world. For most of us, I expect, no one is asking us to go bringing the Gospels to the furthest-flung corners of the earth. But I do believe that we are asked to be deliberately thoughtful, prayerful, and gracious in our bearings to our fellow Christians, and our neighbours in general. That is how the Gospel spreads — and spread it does!
As an aside, let me also make a point of thanking the many of you who have sent prayers, cards, and good wishes to Sally, and especially to those who made a point of supporting her at the ordination itself. We are both grateful for the love and support of these parishes and — now that her studies in Cardiff are done — we are hoping to find an opportunity or two for Sally to take a service or a sermon here now and again, so you can get to know her a little better.