It is an honour for me to be able to write to you as your new Rural Dean (elect). I succeed The Revd Canon Jo Loveridge, with whom I have worked closely over the last six years as her assistant. I am sure you will all wish to join me in thanking Jo for every blessing she brought to the deanery during her time as Rural Dean.
As well as inviting me to my new post, the Bishop has asked The Revd Ysmena Pentelow to replace me as Assistant Rural Dean and I am delighted that she has agreed. We will be formally licensed (or otherwise “deanified”) as soon as we can find a suitable date in the Archdeacon’s diary. Please pray for us both.
As I write, the fourth step on the Government’s Roadmap – to lift all restrictions on June 21st – is looking slightly uncertain. The new Indian variant of the coronavirus is causing concern; cases are rising and the R-rate is above 1 across England as a whole. Despite this, the situation is so much better than it has been, and a return to something more like normal is certainly less of a pipe dream now. Churches, like other institutions, charities and businesses are having to think hard about the kinds of services they provide. Now is definitely the time for us to pay close attention to our communities and to pray for wisdom that we might discern their true needs so we can be a blessing to them, demonstrating God’s love in word and deed. It is likely that we will need to start some old things up again, but it may also be the time to leave some things behind (whether activities we started in lockdown, like online church, or things we’ve “always” done). I will be praying for you as you take those decisions in your parishes.
Two people who will need God’s special wisdom and presence over the coming months are The Revd Wendy Sellers and The Revd David Sheppard who have completed their curacies and are moving to pastures new. Wendy is to be vicar of Sandridge (near St Albans), and David is taking a post in Ely Diocese (Buckden with the Offords). Do pray for them as they step into the next phase of their ministries, and for the parishes which will miss them as they leave.
Finally, the suggestion was made at the last Synod meeting earlier this month that we might meet next as a Synod in July, but I believe we would be better served by waiting a little so the Standing Committee can meet face to face to draft a proper agenda for a new start in the autumn. The date for the next meeting will therefore be September 23rd. Please put it in your diaries (it is on the calendar on this site). This meeting will include the elections for the Standing Committee and the post of Lay Chair. Notes about the roles and expectations of elected representatives will be circulated to members in good time so everyone may consider carefully whether they would like to stand for election.
In a time of change, let us rejoice in the truth that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, and let us strive, in the power of the Spirit, to proclaim the unchanging gospel afresh in our generation.
May God bless you all,
Revd Mark Dunstan
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