Clergy Letter

Reverend Rona Stuart-Bourne - our new Rector

‘I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.’ This is a lovely verse from Jeremiah (3:15) which is a promise which God makes to Israel. It could well be applied to us. Rona is our new shepherd, she will fill us with knowledge and understanding and like the clay in the potter’s hand, we will be reworked into another vessel, one which is the fruit of a thousand years of worship in this church.

Rona will bring a new spiritual life into St. John’s and make us a beacon of love in this Parish. When I ask couples preparing for marriage why they want to be married, I am looking for an answer that has love in it. Then, when I ask them ‘Why in a church?’ I am looking for an answer that has God in it. All priests ‘love’ and love God… and many are called to be shepherds in Parish churches.

At the beginning of September, four such ‘shepherds ‘ were interviewed by six good and true men and women to try to discern who would be the best bride or bridegroom for us. For it is  a marriage of sorts because it centres on love and God. When Jesus asked Simon Peter three times whether he loved him, Simon Peter responded, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ And Jesus told him ‘Feed my sheep.’ (John 21:17) But no two flocks are the same… ask any shepherd and they will tell you… so there has to be something else that makes an appointment a perfect fit.

For me I think that it is not just liturgical capability, a pastoral heart, nor a missional vision… for all candidates in their formation have these personal qualities, if truth be known. However there is something else which, for me, is pertinent to St John’s and it is the ability to put fire in our hearts for Jesus, and the only way to do that is to have a spiritual heart that is centred and focused on the transcendence of knowing God. At St John’s we already have a good spiritual life and it has been deliberately nurtured during the past twelve months whilst we have been in a vacancy by Jacqueline, Diana and myself.             

Our spiritual life now needs to be raised up, to transcend; seeds have been sown lovingly and deliberately and now we are ready. Rona will lead us like the shepherd, Peter; she will tend and feed God’s flock. She will achieve this through love, contemplative prayer and gracious engagement with each one of you. She comes with the support of her loving husband Mark and four children, all of whom you will soon meet. We are all blessed that God has called her to this parish and I am thrilled that she will be with us shortly.

I leave you with a portion of scripture from Psalm 121… ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills - from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’ God has brought Rona to us… let us give Him thanks and praise….and rejoice!                                           

Dermot Verschoyle, Assistant Curate                                                         

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