During all the time that I was offering my first sermons I was aware of a massive problem. A discovery had been made in the months between my accepting the call to Blackburn in early 1972 and actually arriving. Surveyors and architect had found very extensive dry rot in the roof and walls. In fact, it was judged to be so serious that it posed a huge question mark over the future of the church buildings. Perhaps major repairs at great cost might save the building but it was suggested that maybe because it was so large and high it should be demolished and rebuilt!
I first heard about this when the church leaders wrote to me with the news and in 'good conscience' said that they would release me from my call to the church. As they put it - it seems unfair to place such a heavy burden on a new minister. I wish I had kept that letter! Looking back it now seems such an unlikely scenario. I guess it may have happened to other ministers facing their first pastorate but with some naivety (I now realize) Carol and I prayed about it and replied to the leaders that we believed the call was still operative. We would still come.
I had no clue what this might mean for my future ministry. And from my first Sunday I could see the large areas of wall and ceiling where the plaster had been stripped to lay the problem bare. The elephant really was in the roof. I no longer possess minutes of those early meetings when I arrived -so much background stuff is lost in memory. But as I have been gleaning through this sermon file I was looking for the first signs that I would be facing this elephant, with my people, from the pulpit.
I really needed to...but how?
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
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