Footprints

Martin Ritchie comments and ponders a parallel between ministry and the ‘here today gone tomorrow’ of theatre.  And of course there are many parallels between the church and theatre – as there also are with politics.  In my time as a trainer of Curates, I used to suggest to them that they should learn to leave footprints behind them – to act in a situation so that somehow or other it was clear that they had been there.

I suppose that in ministry it’s a bit of both.  If you are the person who conducts the wedding or the funeral or who comes into the hospital in a moment of crisis, you are unlikely to be forgotten – for better or worse.  For the rest, I think clergy tend to operate on the basis of ‘one sows and another reaps’ – sadly in both the negative and positive measurements.  William Barclay said that we stand on the shoulders of our parents.  When I moved from Northern Ireland, I went through a period of feeling that I should have done more.   I celebrate today an e mail from my successor who has got to the finishing line with a building project which I planned with the parish but couldn’t get built.  Thank God for our successors!

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5 Responses to Footprints

  1. Ian says:

    We rebuilt the organ in our church in 2001; undertook a major redecoration of the church in 2003; built a new rectory in 2007; and now plan a rebuilding of our parish centre next year. I have been pleased at each of the ‘footprints’ but wonder why the parish gets so excited about such projects, yet has barely a passing interest in more ‘spiritual’ things. I fear leaving a legacy of buildings in which a successor will have no hand a barren ground for any spiritual harvest!

    • Richard Paxson says:

      Sometimes footprints that are also physical: that is, church buildings & organs & new rectories are too big for subsequent generations of believers, who are saddled with the high fixed costs left-over from the ambitions of their progenitors. In our part of the country the population has decreased over the last 30 years. The equilibrium level of regular-communicants that our congregation maintains through its faithful evangelism is much less than that attained by the post WWII generation that built our beautiful, but now too large church building. So we experiment with alternative uses for the building, like using part of it as a re-sale shop to serve the needs of some, perhaps many members, of our rural Iowa (US) community.

    • david says:

      Well .. Kate and I have been watching the movement towards the start of building of the Parish Centre in Seagoe. It seemed to me that part of the hesitation was to do with a slight shortage of spiritual confidence … It’s great to see it now about to get underway.

  2. What about ya David. the last time i said those words to you we were standing in the reception of ulster carpets duban. Edward Wilson my boss at the time asked me to look after the arch deacon of armagh for the week. what a week more like the artful dodger than arch deacon, wasnt it you who got us lost in the middle of nowhere.

    got you now david, sorry bish
    love the blog, yes you guested it kicked the sash into touch now serving others.
    yours Colin W

  3. david says:

    Goodness Colin. Where did you come from? It’s tempting to say that I’m still lost in the middle of nowhere. Anyway – great to hear from you. Be glad to catch up!

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