I took a year out to be carer for my only sister who died at the end of 2010 and soon after that I started to do the "odd Sunday". It didn't take long for that to become every Sunday so from 2011 to 2016 I led worship in The Brocklesby Park Group of Churches, a group of five parishes with no other Sunday clergy. It was wonderful. I felt fulfilled but not overworked and I was rather sorry for myself when a new vicar was appointed and I had to move on.
Then for nearly a year I helped in the Walesby Group of Parishes. There was already a Non Stipendiary Minister there but she needed a bit of help with the Sunday worship in that group of nine parishes. I wasn't needed every Sunday but whenever they needed me I tried my best to respond. They got a "real" vicar eventually and I expected life to become quieter.
But the Kelsey Group (eight churches) was having difficulty finding a new priest so once again I found myself needed every Sunday and also for the occasional offices as baptisms and weddings and funerals are known (think special services for special occasions). I have been busier than I have ever been since I retired. Every Sunday I take a service and so with visiting and service preparation I have been very busy
Next month the Revd Marion will arrive to be Vicar there and once again I will not be needed. As in both the previous groups I've been asked to continue to help out and while I'm happy to enable regular clergy to have their holidays I'm not willing to continue on a regular basis. This year I have bookings to go back to both the Brocklesby Park Group and the Walesby Group and I shall go joyfully and am sure I will be warmly welcomed back.
So I am now on my round of farewells in the Kelsey Group of Churches. It is bittersweet for I am sad to leave them but happy that they have a new priest coming.
And I hope they will pray for me as God shows me what he has in mind for me over the coming months.