A few weeks ago I passed the 20th anniversary of my ordination. On 3rd July 1999, in the Cathedral at Chichester, I was ordained by The Right Reverend Eric Kemp, Bishop of Chichester. On such anniversaries it is natural to look back at the past.
My ordained ministry began with eight years in a parish in Worthing, where I led a church which met in a school hall. It was an exciting time. In many ways I was thrown in at the deep end – I was leading a church within a year – and I was learning ‘on the job’. I made a lot of mistakes, but God was gracious, and we saw the church grow.
That particular expression of church is no more. At the start of this year it was re-absorbed into the parish church. It is sad that something that once thrived is no more, but I know of many individuals whose lives were transformed by God in that place, and I rejoice in that.
Twelve years ago I moved to Christ Church. It was a different style of church and a different season of ministry for me. I still long to see the church grow and am disappointed that attendance has fallen over that time, even if we have seen growth in other ways.
One encouraging part of the life of Christ Church has been to see the ministry of others develop. There is a cost to this as we see some move on to minister in other churches, but it is a privilege to be part of their journey.
I enjoyed my four-and-a-bit years as Joint Area Dean. It was good to be involved with churches at critical and sometimes difficult times, especially during vacancies. I was aware, however, that this ministry pull me away from my own parish.
I stood down from the Area Dean role when I took on responsibility for St John’s. I am now enjoying getting to know a new church and am excited at what God will do as we look at a shared future.
Over 20 years, my ministry has had joys and sorrows, and perhaps the greatest privilege has been to share in the joys and sorrows of others. Throughout it all, God has been faithful and I remain both grateful that he called me into this particular way of serving him and hopeful for the future.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6)
Revd Andy Wilson
Vicar, Christ Church Portsdown
Priest-in-Charge, St John the Baptist Purbrook
Curate, Church of the Good Shepherd Crookhorn
Chaplain, Havant & Waterlooville FC