Fellside Welcome

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Let me introduce myself ...

"Let me introduce myself ..."

I want to start this letter by saying a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who has made us feel so welcome as we start to take our first steps with you. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us settle in so well, from doing some decorating in the vicarage, made us cakes and biscuits, sending welcome cards and flowers. We have really appreciated all the prayers and offers of practical help also; you really are a very special bunch of people!

If I haven’t met you yet then please let me introduce myself, I am Revd. Gregor Stewart, and it is my privilege to be the new Rector of the Fellside Team. I am married to Susan, and we have two teenage children, Emma, and Alistair, we also have 3 dogs a rabbit and a few tropical fish. We are excited to see what God has for us in this new chapter in our lives and we know that you will all, in one way or another, will be part of that story.

One of the things that I have been reflecting on over the last few months, is change. One thing that is ironic about change is that none of us really like it, yet like the seasons it’s inevitable. It almost goes without saying that when someone new joins a team, then it stops being the previous and becomes the new. As I’m starting to get my head around everything that goes on in the team, I am so grateful for all the hard work and dedication that goes into making the Fellside Team the success that it is. I say this because it is very clear to me, that while change is going to happen, it won’t happen for changes sake. The old phrase used by Martin Luther, (yes, the guy who   started the reformation) in his writings. ‘You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’. Is one that reminds us that when we are considering change it has to be done carefully and above all prayerfully, remembering that Christ has to be at the centre off all we do.

I’m writing this letter in two distinct parts, I have written my ‘introduction’ which has filled me with joy, but now I write with sorrow about the event that happened at St Mary’s this last week. If you do not know, I arrived on the Tuesday morning to discover that the church had been broken into, a stained-glass window has been damaged and the theft of silverware had taken place. I’m not going into any more details here, but I did want to offer my reflections about it.

Just two days before we had the glorious and joyful celebration of Easter Sunday, and along with the other   churches in the team, St Marys was looking beautiful, with the flowers and Easter Garden and we rejoiced at the retelling of the Risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene. It was all the more joyous for me as I had my first coffee in 40 days that morning, as I had fasted from coffee for Lent. But that Tuesday morning the joy of Easter had changed, as there were feelings of pain, hurt and anger about what had happened. It was like we had gone back into Lent, back into a time of lament. One thing that I did find ironic was that the window that was damaged was the one that depicted the very story we had been reading about on Easter Sunday. Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene.

And while the window and the other damage will be repaired, and stolen items can be replaced. The heritage that has gone cannot. The anger we feel because someone has violated a special and Holy place, will remain for a little while. But let us remember what Jesus teaches us in Matthew chapter 5, that we are to ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘if someone wants your shirt, give them your coat also’ and to ‘love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us’. And while we hope that justice is done, we must exercise the forgiveness that Christ taught us to.

Revd Gregor