How strange it is to be writing to you my final magazine epistle before leaving Knutsford and heading for Sandal in Wakefield. I am already surrounded by boxes in my little Office/ Study at home, but there are still many more to pack and there’s certainly a lot to do before Carol and I finally leave.
Saying our farewells during a ‘lock-down’ is certainly not how I imagined ministry concluding in the Circuit; it does not seem to be a proper closure for us, or for friends in the local community and also our many friends connected with KMC.
I trust that the broadcast farewell service and conversations will, in some way, communicate how much we value you all and also provide a fitting celebration of all that we have shared together in mission and ministry.
In sorting through some old files, I found a 2013 paper headed ‘From Good to Great’ which I felt read really well and I was feeling quite pleased with myself, until I read the name at the bottom of the second page —
It was another reminder of the many people I have had the privilege of sharing with during this appointment and all that we have experienced
together. KMC is a ‘Great Church’ made up of some wonderful people who are faithfully serving God together and it has been my privilege to be the
Superintendent Minister amongst over 300 other ministers!
Having been the Mayor’s Chaplain on four occasions during our eight years in the Circuit, is an acknowledgement of our role in the local community as
a church. However, I do remember that I was given the brief to enable the church to become collectively more involved in meeting needs within the community, which I think we can all see is developing and is very evident,
with Friendship Café, Jolly Tots, the Hope Central
foodbank, Tuesday Lunch Bunch, CAMEO, Parenting
Courses, Telephone buddies, Zac’s House and of
course the developing work of The Welcome.
However, I am also aware that there are still a number of things to finalise before we leave and certainly the proposed appointment of two Trainee Youth Evangelists, from September, in partnership with Cliff College, seems like a key development for our Youth work and outreach in both Knutsford and Northwich with Zac’s House. This process is now being overseen
by Stu Crawford on behalf of the Managing Team, with the full involvement of Rev Alan Bradley, as he prepares to minister at KMC.
It is good that we have now launched the Open Doors Audio version particularly for those whose sight is impaired, but it is also proving helpful for those who prefer to hear, rather than read the magazine. At a
recent Bible Study I led on ‘Telling our Story’ I challenged people to share with me in writing their testimony. But now, I am wondering if I can persuade people to record themselves telling their story, so that
we could have another audio feature ‘This is my Story’? This is certainly a time to be creative and to communicate effectively in as many ways as possible.
It does now seem that the church building will not be opening during the remainder of our appointment and that I may not have the opportunity to see you all in person, but Carol and I do plan to drive around Knutsford and Plumley on our final Sunday (26th July), to at least wave “Goodbye” to as many people as possible. Our priority must always be the safety and
protection of the most vulnerable amongst our church family and community.
I shared with people, in a recent Bible discussion, that
in Acts 1: 8 Jesus said to his disciples ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
The mission began (Acts 1-7) in the familiar place they knew and in their comfort zone, but when persecution came, they were scattered to Judea and Samaria, before, eventually, Paul and Barnabus are sent off to Cyprus (Acts 13). The early church had to adapt and to discover a new strategy for their mission.
In the same way, in this particular season, we have had to quickly
adapt, learn new techniques with social media and broadcast media, so that the ministry of Christ from KMC could develop in a whole new way.
Our context is now different and even the culture has shifted, so our
mission and ministry needs to be adapted to this ‘new normal’.
There will be challenges ahead for all of us personally and also for the church, but I feel confident that KMC will be able to re-launch its worship and ministry in the Autumn, developing Christ’s mission in Knutsford,
Northwich, this region and also around the world.
There are too many highlights for me to reminisce here and I would certainly be in danger of becoming overly sentimental if I write too much. But, I do just want to thank you all, for the privilege of serving as your
minister these past eight years and for all of your support and encouragement. We have journeyed together with Christ and I will miss you all more than ever you will miss me! I commend to you my successor
Alan Bradley and his wife Carol, I trust that you will welcome them, without too many references to the past, or myself!
I do look forward to returning at some appropriate point in the future when we are able to gather and in the meantime, do please pray for Carol and I in our new home and appointment as we adjust to all of the change and come to terms with the next exciting chapter of God’s faith adventure.
One consolation is that we will be much nearer to our children and
Grandchildren, so with a new Grandchild on the way in November and our latest Grandchild Ruby Alexandra, there will eventually be a few hugs on the days that we miss you all in Knutsford and Plumley!
Praying for you and your families.
Your friend and minister,
Rev. Rob Cotton