The Vicar: a fool for God

Tonight (16/Feb/2023) I’ll be re-licensed as the Interim Vicar of Marsden and Slaithwaite, and I’m so happy about this. My role, three years ago, was created to help the Church of England grow, and to help those who are sceptical about Christianity to look at their faith in fresh ways. I always said that unless God loves Marsden and Slaithwaite, I would be fighting a losing battle.

So I see this re-licensing as a reason to celebrate, because the Diocese of Leeds, the Bishop of Leeds, the three churches of St Bartholomew’s, St James and Shred all believe that growth is happening – and therefore – that God loves this place we call home. This will be the last period of Interim ministry, after this the churches will either be reshuffled into a bigger Benefice, or they will get a ‘proper’ Vicar. All hope and expectation is that in three years time there will be a permanent appointment of a Vicar.

I want to give thanks to God for loving our villages. I want to give thanks to God for the caring and compassionate community that I live among. I want to celebrate everyone who loves Marsden and Slaithwaite: for the schools, businesses and services that make our villages awesome. Thanks for the fire and rescue services, and for the mountain rescue teams who put their lives at risk to save others. For everyone who volunteers to make life better for others – for our charity shops, community cafes, warm spaces and those whose inspiration keeps them going. I want to say how beautiful it was that during covid, food was delivered to homes, and since then this has continued with events like “donate a Christmas dinner”.

I also want to highlight how many people of faith there are here. Everyone who believes that humans are more than just biodegradable carrier bags for DNA. In St Bartholomew’s, St James and Shred, we pray for Sue Burton and the Methodist community, for Andrew Marchington and the United Church in Marsden, for Andrew and Martin who lead the Roman Catholic Church, for Christine and Adrian from the Salvation Army who volunteer in our villages, for Karen and Dan and their efforts to renew the Hope Huddersfield Church in the Colne Valley, for all those Christians who can’t get to church, or who travel to worship elsewhere, for our free church communities. It is amazing how much faith is here. I also hold our Muslim brothers and sisters in my prayers and give thanks for the friendship I’ve found across our religious convictions.

During my three years I have talked incessantly about God, in private and in public: but I have tried hard not to be an idiot about it. For those who want to know more, I’m always available. For those who want me to keep quiet, I keep quiet.

As I look forward to these next three years of Interim Ministry, I will continue to pray in public, to be available to those who seek faith, and to love Marsden, to love Slaithwaite, and to tell anyone who will listen, just how much God loves you all.

Lastly… another video of me juggling, this time on instagram