Moving On and Ministry
In a moving farewell to the Parish of Tongwynlais, Revd Zoe King reflects on what movement means to ministry:
The last few weeks have been an odd mix of phone calls, visits and looking at curtains. Moving on in ministry comes as an odd mix of spiritually terrifying and the mundane. Will my dining table fit (yes - because the house is huge) and has God, the Bishop and the Interview panel got it horrendously wrong? Will my fridge take a 4th move and what if my preaching is like finger nails on a board to my new congregations.
Change in ministry can feel precipitous - and sometimes safe seems the best option. Recently, I read a book by Erik Varden called ‘The Shattering of loneliness’ and in one chapter called Remember Lot’s wife he speaks of this terrible dilemma of staying with what you know or following God. He writes..
‘Whether we regard her final glance as a failure to understand, as a function of sinful inertia, or as a state of being pierced by homesickness, she stands before us approachable and close.’
I’ve been so blessed here in the Parish of Tongwynlais they’ve got used to my dodgy sense of humour, my slightly ungraceful manoeuvres sometimes, stood alongside me as I them in times of joy, grief and this incredibly challenging year of Covid and its restrictions. I place holy things into hands I know well and when holy days and festivals come up we know roughly how things will go. Things we have tried have gone well, not so well and also failed and they embraced the phrase that sits on my desk ‘failure is an option’ always with enthusiasm, good humour and vigour. So why leave? Why would God give me a push…
Like Lot’s wife looking back its familiar and we have I hope grown together but ministry is not about getting to a point, being comfortable and then living in that groove. It’s about knowing when actually a new voice, a new person will cherish this amazing place and help them grow in a different way and for you to step into a place that’s been cared for and is cared for and become part of their story of the Kingdom.
This is not just true about my parish role but also about my role walking alongside the curates -Its been an incredible privilege to be alongside them but now someone else will have that privilege to work with them and encourage them in different ways.
Am I sad about leaving both roles? Yes - I’d be more worried about my ministry if I wasn’t. Am I excited? - yes, but also terrified. We will all have to learn about each other and start a new journey together.
I can appreciate Lot’s wife wanting to look back, but I also appreciate Tim Peake wanting to go to space as its a new venture, new ground. God said follow me, how blessed am I in following him I have encountered amazing parishes and people along the way and that adventure, in all its terrifying joyous way is continuing.
I cannot thank the Parish of Tongwynlais and the Curates enough for the time we have spent together and the support they have shown in my announcing I was moving on to pastures new and to those in the Ministry Area of Barry for the tremendous welcome I’ve already received.
I think for a little while now though I’m going to look at curtains again and maybe a new tumble dryer because right now I’m still a bit like Lot’s wife.