Taking the Next Step

by Tracey Jones (TJ) 

We’ll be saying a fond farewell to TJ this Sunday, so she has penned a piece for this week’s blog…

TJ Next StepI’ve chosen this picture to illustrate my blog as it represents where I am in my ministry.  I’m about to take another step on the journey as I move on and become an ordinand and then hopefully a curate next year.

As I look back over the last four years here in Stoke Poges, I hardly recognise myself from the person I was when I first arrived: full of enthusiasm and a willingness to serve but little idea of how that might be realised.  I don’t say that with any amount of pride in what I may have achieved but in humility and gratitude for the support and encouragement of so many of the congregation and local community.

In particular, I need to thank Andrew Parry, as my Training Minister, for his patience and wisdom, as he guided and supported my formation in ministry and my tentative steps toward discerning a calling to ordained ministry.  By his strong, Godly leadership and gentle sense of humour, he has taught me so many important lessons that I will take with me from here; not least, how to take myself less seriously.

Another person who has a distinctive sense of humour is, of course, Nigel Lowe.  He too has taught me a lot but the thing I will take with me is the genuinely loving way he accepts people (me included) “warts ‘n’ all”.  His willingness to be vulnerable, whether in preaching feedback or youth work or anything in between, has set me an example I struggle to follow but will continue to learn from.  I may not be as sad to leave his jokes behind though!!!

Simon Edwards has been part of “7Up” leadership from the very beginning and I will be sorry to leave him and all the young people, from whom I learn something new every time we meet.  Our young people have been such a privilege to work with and I’m sure God has incredible plans for them.

OBVIOUSLY, Kate Holliday cannot go without mention as she has been such an amazing source of help in practically every area of my day to day work around the church.  Always there as the “knower of all things” and willing to help in any way, with anything at any time.

As I’ve come this far in thanking people, I now realise that it’s fast becoming a very long list which is impossible to complete.  I’d therefore like to thank EVERYONE who has been part of my time in the church.  When I arrived, I hadn’t really preached or led services (other than the occasional All-Age service) and so all my real learning has been here.  So many of you have had an impact on who I am today, as you have given feedback on my preaching or leading, pastoral care or youth work etc, that I cannot even begin to list everyone.

I suspect that as I move to Penn & Tylers Green Churches, I will constantly have moments when I stop and give thanks for all that you have been to me.