As my regular reader knows, my family and I are about to leave this appointment and move to a new one. It’s that time of year for Methodists in the UK: we play Musical Manses. Hopefully, when the music stops, there’s a manse for us. (That’s facetious: the Church covenants to ensure that, when we covenant to leave our old lives behind to follow the ministerial call.)
From the minister’s perspective, it’s a mixed and emotionally strenuous time. You may have grown to love the area, as my family and I have done with Chelmsford, or you may have felt like a fish out of water. You may have developed a special bond with the churches you have served, or you may have been a square peg in a round hole. As you move, you hope and pray your spouse and children will settle in the new town, new house, new school and perhaps the new job. If they settle, you will.
From the congregation’s perspective, if the relationship with the minister has been good, then this season is like a mini-bereavement. The lack of an ‘interregnum’ in British Methodism inhibits the grieving process. If the relationship has not been good, then people need to guard their hearts, and also watch that they do not load too many excessive expectations on the new minister.
So for everyone going through that time at present, here are two songs. Firstly, for those who are sad to leave, here is Jimmy Ruffin and ‘Farewell is a lonely sound’:
Secondly, for those who are relieved to leave, here is Buddy and Julie Miller‘s cover of Richard Thompson‘s ‘Keep your distance’: