We are now into the sixth month of the vacancy – the period without a Vicar. The process of appointing a new Vicar has been going on throughout that time and we all had the opportunity to contribute to the Parish Profile. The PCC also produced the Parish Brochure (information about OPC and the Otley area that is sent out to potential applicants) and had various meetings with the Bishop and others from the Diocese. The post was advertised in early April and applications close in early May, with interviews to be held on the 23rd May. Please continue to pray for those involved in the final stages of this process. Whilst we are keen to get a new Vicar in post as soon as possible, Bishop Nick has made it clear that it’s more important to get the right person – even if that means we have to delay things further after the first round of interviews. So while we hope to have someone in post by September we could conceivably be waiting rather longer than that!
One of the most important things that Barry and I have to ensure as Churchwardens during this time of vacancy is that our church doesn’t deviate from the general way things were done during Graham‘s time. Sometimes that can create a little tension but it is important that any significant changes, if indeed there are any, await the arrival of the new Vicar.
However, it’s important to note that, while we can’t have significant changes taking place at this time, we do want to maintain the same direction of travel. We don’t want to stagnate as a church during the vacancy and it has been important to get some of the pre-Covid activities and ministries back into action. It is also really good to continue to encourage many members of the congregation to take part in leading, producing content for and taking part in ourworship services and in other activities and ministries throughout the week. This is something that Graham was very keen to build on.
We have just passed through the Easter season and the great celebration of Jesus conquering death and rising to new life and all that that means for us as redeemed children of God, able to start living life in His eternal Kingdom. The theme of new life is always emphasised in an earthly sense at this time of year also, as we go through spring and move into summer with so much new growth and new birth around us in God’s creation.
In the same way that we don’t want church life to stand still, we don’t want our own personal relationship with God to stagnate either. As we consider Jesus’ gift of new life and a new future through His work on the Cross, and as we look towards new growth and new life in the physical world it’s a great opportunity to take stock of our own personal spiritual development – to see which areas need to have new life breathed into them through the power of the Holy Spirit. Do we need to spend a bit more of our prayer time listening for what God might be trying to say to us? Perhaps to spend more time in reading the bible or praying – simply spending more time with Him. Perhaps God wants us to be involved in a new area of ministry within the life of our church – or beyond. Isaiah 43:19 – ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ If God is bringing us to a place of refreshing and renewal, then He will ensure that we have the necessary resources within us to do that to which He is calling us.
As Jackie said to us in her Easter Sunday talk, ‘The resurrection is personal – it’s for each one of us – and we can experience a new coming alive again in the Spirit. And when we really know’ (in our hearts not just in our heads) ‘that the risen Lord Jesus Christ really loves each one of us, it changes our whole lives.’
As we pray for the appointment of our new Vicar and for the new chapter that it will bring in the life of Otley Parish Church, let us also pray for ourselves that, in this time of post Easter new life, God may each day fill us anew with His Holy Spirit – that we may be channels of His love and grace to others.