So we have a name at last – Hooray! Our new vicar will be the Revd Dr Stephen Bellamy. Steve is currently the vicar of St Nicholas’ church in Durham. The announcement heralds the birth of a new chapter in the lives of our two churches and we look forward to welcoming Steve and Wendy to Faringdon & Little Coxwell.
Throughout the search we were brilliantly guided by John Alderman, Rachel Gibson and Ann Brown of the Simeon Trust, our patrons. On the home front a lot of hard work was done by many people, not least the team who produced the Parish Profile.
From the start John had explained that this was about discerning who God had already chosen to be our next vicar. For this accountant, used to dealing with facts and figures, that was a daunting prospect!
Meanwhile a lot of people were doing a lot of praying and those prayers were being answered.
The morning of the day the candidates were due to arrive started rather unusually for me, as I found myself helping to deliver a calf in the barn beside my office. The calf was stuck and we needed to get her out. There is nothing like a birth to remind one of how miraculous life is but also sometimes how fragile it can be. We got the calf out but there was no sign of life. Then with a lot of encouragement she started breathing. There was a tiny spark of life. On that particular morning the successful delivery of a calf in such unpromising circumstances was a timely reminder that God really does have everything in his hands and that we must trust in him.
When it came to the interviews the concern was that we would all agree. The people with responsibility for making an appointment are the Patron, the Bishop and the Parish Reps. If anyone of them disagrees with a suggested appointment they are entitled to say no and it is back to square one! Our prayer was that God should make the choice clear to all of us.
Sure enough our prayers were answered in emphatic style, as it was clear to everyone who we should invite to be our new vicar.
So we now look forward to a new era in the lives of our churches. With the development of the town we are undoubtedly on the threshold of a time of change and hopefully of growth in both parishes. As Parish Reps we are delighted that God has led Steve to us and that in him we have the right person to lead the benefice forward.
I walked across the farm a couple of days after the interviews and came across that cow & calf. The calf head-butted her mother’s udders to encourage the milk to flow and swished her tail as she took a drink. That tiny spark of life was now burning brightly…