Our Superintendent the Revd Keith has kindly invited me to write a few words to introduce myself, which I am very pleased to do.
Two years ago I had every intention of seeing out my active ministry by continuing in my role as Chair of the Lincolnshire Methodist District, a role that has been a great privilege to undertake. Lincolnshire is a county that has become dear to my heart.
However, as I sat in Stationing Matching Group in November 2021 I began to feel drawn to a number of the appointments that were not being filled. A few weeks later, after much thought and prayer, Karen and I decided that I should curtail after 12 years as Chair, enter stationing in the autumn of 2022, and offer my final two or three years in active ministry serving in a Circuit.
When I received the profiles suggested to me we were quickly drawn to the Wantage & Abingdon appointment. The subsequent visit did not disappoint, far from it. We felt this to be the place that God has called us and we are excited at what may be in store for us all.
It will no doubt take a little while to readjust to circuit ministry again, though I think that a number of things I learnt as Chair may be of benefit! Prior to Lincolnshire, I served for eighteen years in Manchester, three in training at Hartley Victoria College (Methodist Inter Collegiate Football Cup winners for two of those three years, robbed on penalties in the third!).
This was followed by five years in three inner city churches and ten years in a large suburban church. During that time, through various encounters, I developed a keen interest in faiths other than Christianity, especially Judaism. I also became deeply concerned about the complicity of the Church in antisemitism and the Holocaust. My commitment to raising awareness of the hostility Christians have often had toward Jews has continued since. I also became very involved in coordinating hospitality to Kosovan refugees during the 1999 Kosovan War. I have recently spent some time in Kosova during my sabbatical. You can read about it on my blog at revbrucethompson.wordpress.com.
My third appointment was in the county of Somerset from 2002 – 2011. For three of those years I was superintendent of two Circuits before we were able to merge them into a new Circuit, the Taunton Deane & South Sedgemoor Circuit in 2006. It was a time of challenge and change. There were also some significant building redevelopments, which was enjoyable as it drew me back to my first career in the construction industry.
I often view my ministry in fairly general terms. I have always enjoyed preaching and leading worship. Over recent years, I have especially enjoyed leading Bible studies, tending to focus on the context of the passages: why they were written in the way that they were.
Since 1996 I have led pilgrimages to Israel and I am thrilled that so many from the Circuit are part of this year's tour at the end of November. I have also led a number of visits to Krakow and Auschwitz. A number of people have already asked if I will be leading another Auschwitz tour in the future and hopefully this will be possible in the autumn of 2024.
Karen will be taking retirement from teaching after thirty-six years, so this will be a challenge for us both! On our days off we anticipate exploring nearby areas that we are as yet unfamiliar with. On rainy days I expect to be throwing a bit of paint at canvases in the hope that they resemble something decent. Painting is a pastime I have grown to enjoy more and more in recent years. Karen and are both keen on art. I am also an avid reader of novels. We are blessed with two sons and two daughters in law. David & Sarah will be taking up new teaching appointments in Gloucester in September and Robert & Katie live in London. All being well David & Robert will be able to take an appointment or two on the Circuit Plan in the near future.
My hope as we join the Wantage & Abingdon Circuit is that we will together continue to discern God's will for this wonderful part of England and have fun in undertaking it.
More to come!
All Saints Methodist Church
There is free parking in our car park behind the Church in Dorchester Crescent.