Those of you who were at the annual meeting will know that over this coming year we are starting the process of me passing on the licence as leader of the Fountain of Life. We are still very much committed here but obviously I cannot go on being the incumbent for ever and it seems to us to be the right time for a further transition of leadership role to be made.
I outlined some of those reasons on the 22nd April: we are being invited to do more work investing in leaders pioneering elsewhere; we have always imagined that our latter years of active ministry would be used in this way, here as well as further afield; Paul has reached the point in his life where he should be either leading this church or another; and the church is in a good position for this to be a transition year.
We have positioned Paul to be my natural successor and I would very much endorse him in that role. It is not, however, appropriate, right, healthy – or possible - for us to be making that decision: that is for the Trustees and the Bishops to decide upon. From the Bishops’ perspective I am assured that there is a green light to Paul succeeding if that is the Trustees’ decision. Nor is it right for me to define our future involvement at this stage – there needs to be space for other voices to be heard and I must cede control!
From a timing perspective, I would hope that the Trustees will be in a position to advise the Bishops of their decision on succession by the end of this summer which enables us to complete the process with a view to transition at the end of June 2019.
Inevitably the prospect of change affects people differently. Some people relish the idea of change and are energised by it, filled with hope and expectation of new life; others really don’t like the status quo being challenged and are thrown off balance. Perhaps we all veer towards one or other of those reactions, or have an equal measure of both anxiety and excitement. So, a few thoughts to hopefully encourage us all.
Jesus is still on the throne, is our King, leader and good shepherd!
The Fountain of Life is substantially more than Pippa and I. God has raised up an extraordinary team of leaders at FoL; with amazing gifting, passion and commitment to the cause of the Gospel: to see lives changed, churches revived and communities transformed.
There is so much to enter into in the coming year. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and focus on all that lies ahead. The extraordinary Bart Gee recently reminded us that growth comes as we step out of our comfort zone and the Mission Adventures team spoke about how they were challenged to enter into their stretch or even panic zones. What might the Father want you to be stepping into this year that stretches you into growth?
As I said at the AGM we are a different type of church – a family on mission. You’re amazing people, the best church anyone could ever have the privilege of leading. You’re pioneering real mission engagement in a rural area and have debunked the myth that rural equals provincial and small. You are more than a local church; you’re part of a movement. Your existence causes ripples to be felt not just around the UK but worldwide – and that is no exaggeration.
As we step into the future we have the opportunity to see our call and vision secured into the next phase of leadership. May the Lord grant us favour as we seek His face and His will.
Love and prayers
Stephen and Pippa