Now that I am retired, my church home is as a member of a small group of country churches. Our churches have been without their own minister for the last almost three years. The new minister was inducted into her new job a month ago. Already there is a sense of people wanting to work and worship together and support her. I have always recognised that a “vacancy” – (where a church is between ministers) is a testing time for congregations, and it has been so here. Despite the hard work of local people, a neighbouring minister to give oversight and a team of visiting preachers, there has been a feeling that something is somehow not complete. A visitor at our morning service yesterday was remarking upon how nice it must feel to have the new minister installed in the Manse (same as a Rectory) in the village. And I am a bit embarrassed to admit that this is indeed correct.
It is a lesson in practical theology but I have not quite worked out how to express it. There are so many theories about all-people participation, and it is true that churches desperately need volunteers to help them to thrive. However, the dynamic of a leader is also required. Perhaps it is easier to see this because I am retired and because I am one of the members rather than the “person up front.” One thing is sure, I am deeply grateful that we are at a new beginning in our beautiful Highland area, and in that, there is a sense of the presence of God.