Friday, July 17, 2020

Honesty about guidance 11)

Two or three months after receiving the call to go to Blackburn I received another letter. This was from the Chairman of the Management Committee (which I was to learn was a powerful group in the life of the church).  He wrote with much sadness he said.  I had noticed when I last visited the church building that there were large patches of plaster missing on the upper walls and ceiling.  No one mentioned that it was a problem.  A major problem.

The letter told me that expert advice had now been sought and that dry rot was so very serious in the main church structure that the building was deemed past redemption.  Many thousands of pounds would be needed to even attempt a repair but the damage was so extensive that success was unlikely.  The church had been advised that the congregation would no longer be able to continue on the site.  Demanding questions lay ahead that included whether a new church should be built elsewhere.

The Chairman wrote to release me from the call.  As he put it, it seemed extremely unfair for a new young minister to enter commitment to ministry when such major problems lay ahead. Release from the call?

I wondered if you can be released from a call if God is truly in it?  After all, He knew the future with its problems ahead of all of us.  I know I was naive about much of this call - in fact I said yes to the church without any details about accommodation, pay, holidays etc.  Contracts were rare in those days and frankly it seemed to me if God was in charge he would work it out.  In the same spirit I replied that I believed I should still come to be the minister.

It really was one of the weird happenings in my weird life - receiving a call that I was later recommend to retract.  In the interest of full disclosure building a new church inside the old did become one of the main visions of my seven year ministry and was to provide an amazing opportunity for sacrifice and mission.  One of the newspaper headlines ran: Thank God for dry rot!  because things happened on a scale that only God could organize.  But that's getting into a new story.

No comments: