T Minus 33
Today we will get ready as usual to go to church. We are members of St Mary’s Church Bletchley (SMB) a lively Anglican Church in South West Milton Keynes. It’s a routine which I have followed for almost 26 years. To quote from an earlier post
I came through the door of St Mary’s at about 11am in early November of 1988. I had chosen the wrong service!
I was looking for a lively and engaging service – but found something old fashioned and a little dull. I might never have returned but for a friendly man in a red sweater by the name of Tony. He suggested that I might prefer the 9:45am service as it was more modern than the 11:15 I’d just attended. He gave me a service book so I could see what it was like as long a I brought it back next week.
Of course I did and so started a relationship with the church that has spanned more than a quarter of a century.
St Mary’s is not stuffy, it is not old fashioned, it has a wide range of people of all ages, from a range of backgrounds and cultures. It is not a stereotypical Anglican Church. Having said that it doesn’t completely espouse tradition, thus throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
Anita and I were married there, we have brought up family there. We have shared in the ups and downs of church life (no church is perfect!), but we have been happy there. I have taken my share of responsibilities and roles; youth leader, drama team member/leader, sides person, deputy Churchwarden, webmaster, PC operator, volunteer present wrapper for Christmas Food Cupboard, member of the Christmas Choir and above all member of the PCC. Anita has played in the music group and served in the crèche and on the “Sunday School” rota. Matt has helped out with the same.
As we bid farewell to so many friends and familiar faces it is going to be strange and sad. More than any other last we have so far this is the biggest.
We will share a lunch with some of our friends at St Mary’s at the end of the 11am service – it will be a great send off but a “bitter sweet” experience I am sure.
God will still be there wherever we go but we will miss our St Mary’s family very much. It is highly unlikely we will ever be part of another church for so long (as a couple for 20+ years).
Whenever we return (and we will when we come back to the UK) it will be as visitors. Nonetheless the wonders of modern technology will allow us to be visitors from afar throughout our time in Tanzania. In that sense we will always be part of SMB.
Update: It was great to chat to so many SMB folk today and say our goodbyes. It was lovely to share a meal with some of them and to read their comments in cards.
We were presented with a lovely photo of SMB which we will place in our new home – a reminder of the place I have called home for a quarter of a century.