A New Kid in Town!
‘Johnny come lately, The new kid in town.’
Thus sung the Eagles back in 1976 and I have to confess to being a ‘Johnny come lately’ and a ‘new kid in town’, church leader wise, in this area. I won’t have been the only recent arrival, of course, so if you are reading these words and are also newly arrived, then let me be among the first to welcome you. I know what you’ve been going through!
I guess a brief introduction is in order. My name is Steve and I originally hail from Sidcup on the border between Kent and South-East London. My journey to this point has been a tour of the southern half of the country that has taken in Oxford, the East End of London, Dartmoor, the Black Country, Raunds (on the Northamptonshire/Cambridgeshire border), Tunbridge Wells, Bicester and now here. ‘Here’ means living in Capel St Mary and having responsibility for the Methodist churches in Capel, Bramford, Chelmondiston, Elmsett and Holbrook. It’s a big patch but I’m looking forward to life here particularly after the very warm welcome I’ve received from everyone I’ve met so far.
For the past 35 years, I’ve been accompanied by Karen my wife and we have two children with a ten- year gap between them – Tim, who is married and a social worker living in Essex and Euan who is studying at Exeter University.
It’s strange as a minister moving from one place to another after several years of settling down somewhere. Those periods of ‘settling down’ for us have been nine years at Raunds, ten years in Tunbridge Wells and eight years at Bicester. That kind of time means that, when you get to the point of leaving, you know people’s names and the way things work as well as anyone in the church and better than most. Then you move and all of that is stripped away. You’re back to square one having to learn a new set of names and how things operate.
It’s made me more appreciative, and I hope it’s not just temporarily, of what it must be like for many people in our world who are uprooted for a variety of reasons – due to conflicts, persecution, environmental reasons etc. etc. – and who have to start over in a new community that maybe doesn’t even speak the language they’re used to speaking. Many of them won’t even be able to take their own possessions with them and I know from first hand experience how important that has been for us in making a new dwelling place feel like a home.
I am reminded of words from the New Testament letter of Paul to the Christians in Philippi:
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
Jesus, Paul is saying, went through exactly the same experience of having everything that was familiar stripped away from him and having to start a new existence in a different place. And if my being on the move has made me more empathetic towards people going through similar, how much more can we say the same of Jesus. When Christians say that he is a friend that anyone can turn to at any time, we can do so with the confidence that he fully understands every aspect of what it is to be human not just because he is ‘all-knowing’ but because he has lived it out from the inside.
I look forward to getting to know you over the next few years – contact me if you need/want to – and I look forward to sharing this present stage of my journey with you.
Rev Steve Mann (Minister at Bramford Methodist Church)
8 Roundridge Rd, Capel St Mary, Ipswich, IP9 2UG
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / 01473 311178
Bramford Methodist Church at 10.30am
Sunday, 8 October Rev Chris Jowett with Communion
Sunday, 15 October Maggie Finbow
Sunday, 22 October Brian Nichols
Sunday, 29 October Rev Steve Mann
Online services are available 24/7 on the Circuit (www.methodistic.org.uk) and Capel church (www.capelmethodistchurch.org.uk) websites.