The View from the (vacant) Rectory - May 2019
No sooner had I sat down at my computer to compose this letter than I received the news that following the interviews of three candidates for the post of Rector of Market Deeping, held in Lincoln the previous day, no appointment had been made. By the time you read these words at the beginning of May this will, of course, be old news, but we still need to reflect upon it and its many implications for all of us.
Comment on practical aspects of this decision will be found elsewhere in this magazine, but obviously there will be further delay in filling the post of Rector, (and also, of course, in filling the vacant Rectory of the title above!). Just as obvious is the fact that this is disappointing for us as a parish and a congregation, but we would do well to take a longer and a deeper view. It is important for us to remember that this decision was taken by a panel of seven, with a wide range of qualifications, abilities and experience. This panel included the Bishop of Grantham, the Archdeacon of Boston, our Rural Dean, the lay chair of our Deanery, the Lord Chancellor's Ecclesiastical Secretary (the Lord Chancellor being patron of our living), and our two elected Parish Representatives, Nigel and Susanne. It is important too for us to note that after an exhaustive series of interviews, this panel felt that while each of the candidates displayed positive aspects, none of them showed the full range of qualities required for the post of our Rector, and that it would therefore be unwise to make an appointment at this stage.
Equally, the senior ecclesiastical members of the panel, in particular, felt confident that in His own time God would supply a person who has that full range of qualities, and so we must continue to pray that this will indeed be the case. Once we have got over our initial disappointment, we will realise that there are many positive aspects to the changed situation. We are being presented with opportunities to further and strengthen the very real progress that has been made during the months in which we have been in vacancy. We have worked so hard, but the important thing is that we have worked hard together, and must continue to do so, remembering always that we do so in God's name and for God's purposes.
During the vacancy, the Ministry Team - two (very) active Readers and two Readers Emeritus - have met together regularly for Bible Study. We felt it appropriate that at this time we should study the book of Joshua, which chronicles the progress of the people of Israel into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. Throughout that progress, God constantly commands his people to "Be strong and of good courage". Let us hear and obey that command as we continue to progress towards our Promised Land of a new era in our lives together and in our relationships with one another and with God.
We now know that it will take a little longer for us to get there than we had hoped, but we must continue to do all we can, by prayer and by hard work, to ensure that it is worth it when we do.