Stephen leaving to become Canon Missioner

Monday 15 October 2012   9.35 am

Dear friend,

At our Sunday services yesterday I made the following announcement.

13 years, 1 month, and 6 days ago, I was inducted as vicar of Ascension Balham Hill. We have been on a long journey together since then, often a good and exciting one, sometimes a tough and challenging one. But all things come to an end, and today I need to tell you that my time as leader of this church and vicar of this parish is drawing to a close.

The Bishop of Southwark has invited me to become Canon Missioner of Southwark Diocese, and I have accepted. In my new role I will be a Residentiary Canon of the Cathedral and a member of the Bishop’s staff team, with responsibility to lead the diocese in mission and evangelism, including church planting and grafting, and Fresh Expressions of church. It is a big piece of work, and I am excited to have been asked to take it on, even as Jacqui and I feel sadness at leaving Ascension.

My last Sunday here will be 25th November, when we will have just one service, at 10.30am, at which I will preach and celebrate Communion. There will be a farewell party on the previous Friday, 23rd November, to which all Ascensionites, past and present, are warmly invited. I will be installed as Canon Missioner by the Bishop in Southwark Cathedral at Evensong at 3.30 on Sunday 13th January, and again, I hope many of you will come. Ascension will not have an evening service on that day to encourage as many people as possible to attend.

As soon as possible the process will begin to find my successor. This usually takes several months, but the churchwardens and I hope and pray that a short vacancy may be possible to enable Ascension to rebuild momentum and clarify the vision for the next season of the church’s life. In the meantime you will be well served by the excellent leaders you have in my fellow clergy and other staff, the elders and the PCC, and many others.

Vacancies may be testing periods for a congregation, but they can also be enormously creative seasons, in which the church comes together before God to take ownership and rediscover what is really important about life as a community. This seems to tie in very closely with what I have sensed God saying and doing at Ascension this year, and I hope you will all push through the testing parts in order to come out stronger.

There will be more to say over the next weeks and months. For now, let me say that it has been a privilege to lead Ascension for 13 years, and that I am glad that I will continue to have relationship with you through my new role. I still believe that God’s purpose for this parish will be fulfilled in his time and in his way, and I feel honoured to be part of it.

With love and best wishes,

Stephen

PS click here for the diocesan press release about my appointment
Link to announcement on Southwark Diocesan website

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