Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I write this letter for the July magazine, I have just got back from the short service in Blackburn Cathedral at which Bishop Philip gave me my new extended licence.
It was a wonderful service. The Bishop and I were both (pleasantly) surprised that so many people came, including some people who (unknown to me) made the journey from Fleetwood to show support.
This means that I have been in the Benefice for a year now. It is true what they say: time really does fly. It has been a time of great joy and great challenges. I have certainly started to learn many lessons that I will take with me whenever the right time comes to leave this Benefice.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this last year. I was reflecting earlier on what—if anything—I have achieved in the last year. In many ways, this is something that it is difficult to quantify. I think the main difference is that there is a much more positive feeling in the Benefice. Indeed, this is something to which Bishop Philip testified when he came for the Confirmation service in May. He described the difference as a ‘transformation’ and that it was almost unrecognisable as the same Benefice.
I am grateful that this is so. I am grateful for the positive way in which you have responded to my arrival here. Now that the atmosphere and feeling in the Benefice is more positive, we now need to seek to move forward into growth and renewal and begin to look much more outward.
Please continue to pray for me and for the life of the Benefice, and please continue to pray the prayer that I gave out on Pentecost Sunday, that God may grant us new life.
Yours in Christ,
Fr Matthew