The Minister's Letter

                                                                                                  

Malvern has been a very special place to have been appointed to as a Methodist Minister.  I came as a ‘young’ probationer and you welcomed David and I into the churches with warmth and a sense of expectation that God was at work among us.  It has been a privilege to have been a part of your journey over the past seven years and I cannot believe how fast the time has gone!  I was recently asked the question: “What would you especially like to see continue from your ministry?”  It was a question that made me reflect on what ministry here has been about.

It has involved listening to your stories, sharing in your joys and being there in your sorrow, praying for you, ministering the sacraments, being a representative of the Methodist Church in Malvern, working alongside some great colleagues both in the South West Worcestershire Circuit and in Churches Together in Malvern, making new friends and joining in the work of God with you.  I have made mistakes along the way and learned a huge amount about myself and God in the process.  My family have always been there for me and David has brought many different gifts to share with you too. I remember him saying: “I didn’t marry you to become a minister’s husband” – yet he has done a fantastic job!

For me, the work that I would especially like to see continue is that ‘kingdom living’ of radical hospitality and extravagant generosity that goes the extra mile, breaking down barriers and offers God’s love to all people.  If we are serious about our vision of being a welcoming, inclusive church that seeks to follow Christ, then we are called to live in relationship with God and with other people.  That means prayer, worship, caring, and sharing which involves risk-taking, change, self-giving and a messy church where we learn to trust in a faithful God, whose grace turns our weaknesses into opportunities by the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We are privileged to worship in beautiful sacred spaces where we gather as God’s people and we should not be afraid of inviting others to come and discover God with us. Making the buildings as accessible, inclusive and welcoming as possible will reflect our vision and enable them to become effective tools for mission.  How we use them and open them to the community offering hospitality is key.  Prayer, vision and a willingness to think outside the box will bring new opportunities for mission in our communities, building new ways of being church in the future.

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,

A place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;

Here the love of Christ shall end divisions –

All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

(Singing the Faith 409)

I pray that the vision that has grown in each of the church congregations will continue to develop and that you will have the confidence in Christ to go forwards together.  Your new Minister, Nigel Coke-Woods and his wife, Sylvia, will bring new gifts and blessings to the churches in Malvern and I hope and pray that they will be as happy as we have been living in this beautiful place with such special people that we have loved and will miss as we leave for pastures new in Birmingham.

Grace and peace to you, with our love and every blessing

Alison and David