This week I was invited to a celebratory service of 125 years of St David’s, Glanadda, Bangor, where I first found the courage to act upon my sense of calling and formally start exploring my vocation.
It was strange and wonderful to be back. The building is often likened to Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. It’s a barn of a building, tall and dark, but for me there is a warmth that welcomes you in. Your eye is pulled up to the alter and your attention is fixed.
Of course the building holds great memories for me, a lot happened over the 4 years I was there, but with any church it’s the people that are the most important. And in many ways it seemed like nothing had changed since the first time I walked through those doors, the familiar chattering before the service continues as many of the same people go about the same jobs and the faint music from the choir drifts up from the vestries down stairs.
It was strange to be back.
As well as it being the place where I first acted upon my calling, it’s the place that encouraged and nourished me in those early years. I preached my first sermon there, carried out my first home visits, led my first services, and chaired my first congregational meetings. I was able to observe the PCCs and have an active role in organising coffee mornings and fetes.
I learnt so much from my time there. And it is only now, after serving two years in curacy that I am really, truly appreciating all that they taught me and all that I learnt from them.
It was lovely to see the old faces, and really good to see some new. The church was decorated in pictures from the local school, and some of the congregation couldn’t wait to tell me about their family service, and he recent work they had been doing. Except for one funeral, at which I did not hang around to chat, I had not been in the church since I left for college in 2009 and so it was really pleasing to see them encouraged and excited by their ministry and gong out into their community. They are a small congregation, but not without hope in continuing their 125 year calling to bring Christ into the community of Glanadda.
As the ordinations this Peter-tide come closer I’ve been thinking back over the past two years since my own ordination and starting my curacy. But this visit has sent my mind back even further. I give thanks for St David’s, who, without their support and encouragement I would not be where I am today and I wish them every blessing for the next 125 years.