St Barnabas Church, Joydens Wood

Team Vicar’s Letter September 2018

I am writing this in mid-August, as I prepare to begin my Extended Ministerial Development Leave (EMDL) which in common parlance is a Sabbatical. Permission for this special leave of absence was agreed with the Director of Ministry, at the Diocese of Rochester – way back in the spring of 2017. During the three month period of leave, I will be relieved of all my usual Parish Duties and I will spend my time studying, praying and reflecting on the writings of a man called Walter Hilton, a contemporary of the more widely-known writer called Julian of Norwich.

Walter could be described as a medieval best-seller as his books were very popular during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. He was born in 1340 and died in 1396, and is considered to be one of the greatest English mystics of that period. He studied at the University of Cambridge before becoming a hermit and later joined the monks at Thurgarton Priory, in Nottinghamshire where he remained for the rest of his life.

I will be focussing on one book he wrote, called Mixed Life in which he gives advice concerning the ways in which it is possible to live prayerfully and close to God within the demands of a busy life. I am sure I will learn much from him that could be applied to all of us in the twenty-first century.

We could never have known, when this Study Leave was agreed, that St Barnabas and the parish of Joydens Wood would be in such a time of change. Before I begin my time away, I will just have time to sign the legal paperwork that will make it possible to take St Barnabas Joydens Wood and St James North Cray into a Team Ministry with the parish churches of St Mary’ Bexley and St John’s Bexley. A Team Rector will be appointed in due course.

The churchwardens and I have worked hard to make sure that there is cover for all the usual services while I am away and so it will be very much ‘business as usual’. This has been possible because retired and part-time clergy are willing to give their time and energy to help out at other churches. Some are travelling significant distances to be with us, and we are very grateful to them all!

I will continue to pray for you while I am away.

God bless
Reverend Ren Harding
contact me at The Vicarage, 6 Tile Kiln Lane

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