Minister's Reflections for July/August

I hope you will indulge me for a while as I look back over forty years of stipendiary ministry. It all started almost fifty years ago when someone asked me whether I would consider training to be minister. The idea must have developed into a calling, as I was quizzed and questioned by many groups before being accepted. I spent four happy years in Manchester and one in St. Andrew’s Scotland before being called to my first pastorate in South Leeds. From there I went to Morley, then Bradford and finally to Hull.

The first thing I want to say is that serving the United Reformed Church has been a privilege. Being called to be a Minister of Word and Sacrament doesn’t put you on any higher plain than anyone else within the church. I was set apart to do a particular task, but as you know we all have God given gifts and skills that we offer to the church community; I believe in the Priesthood of all believers. So, I give thanks for the many people I have served alongside. Some have been ministers of all denominations, but many have been church members with skills and talents far beyond mine.

The Church makes the mistake of giving its ministers a special status. There are grand ceremonies of Ordination and Induction to which the local great and the good are invited, and ministers are almost enthroned to leadership. (We often use the term Inter regnum which means between kings). Some ministers make the mistake of taking on this mantle. We are not special, and many people feel a good and justified calling to many other professions.

As I approach the end of my ministry alongside you all, I am sure some will be plotting to make grand speeches of farewell. I would prefer that you didn’t. As with many obituaries(!) the facts and the sentiments are often exaggerated to protect the innocent. I am quite happy for you to toast my farewell, some may even be glad to see the back of me. I have not got the skills and talents to be a great minister, but I have done my best.

I wish the Hull Area Team well in the future – I leave you all in safe and very capable hands. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as we continue this Christian journey together.


[Revd Simon Swailes will be retiring from the Ministry in August]