Letter from the Minister - January 2010

Once again we find ourselves in January with Christmas behind us and a whole new year ahead of us. We may be able to look back over 2009 with affection and see real personal triumphs and victories and perhaps even some of our New Year's resolutions kept. We are now fitter, thinner, better read and enjoying many more happy relationships.

On the other hand, we are very concerned that once again we will set some resolutions and know that by the end of January they will all be broken. So perhaps it is with trepidation we look at the year that lies ahead. We also know that there will be a general election and whoever governs, some hard economic decisions will have to be taken. It will mean for some of us the loss of jobs, and possibly loss of homes.

For me, 2010 will be a very special year for by the end of it I will have been ordained for twenty five years, married for thirty years and served as a parish priest on Moreton Hall for twenty years. All three of these things mean a great deal to me and as I look back over those time periods I can honestly say it is only be the grace and love of God and by the loyalty and love of my wife, Jane, that these three milestones have been achieved.

When I came to the estate in 1990, there were barely fifteen hundred occupied homes. The only amenities were the Moreton Hall pub, the old community centre in Heldhaw Road, and Sebert Wood Primary School, which had just opened that September. We now have over three thousand homes, and a long list of amenities.

Taking a long view, although as a community we have had our tragedies and our disappointments, I can say that the hand of God has guided and protected and helped not only the church on Moreton Hall but also everyone who lives here. I can also say that many hundreds of people by some strange chance have been brought to this estate and in the short while they have lived here have encountered Christ, had their lives changed, and then gone on to live happy and exciting lives in partnership with Him elsewhere. At the same time while the local church has experienced its trials and difficulties, we have never lost that sense of God's presence in our midst and the joy of being with Him as we meet Sunday by Sunday for worship. It has also been a real pleasure to be host to so many groups, which reach out to the community and have changed lives through the various activities they offer.

Yet, despite all this, I am of the firm belief that God has not yet finished with Moreton Hall and the church that He has planted there. I believe that while there may be some huge challenge that lay ahead, His grace and power will sustain us and will see us into new better and brighter things.

However, what continues to amaze me is the way people on our estate continue to live their lives without ever thinking God has a plan for them too. Scripture says that Jesus has a "good, pleasing and perfect plan" for all our lives. I have found that once I ask God to show me His plan for my life, and to walk in it, many truly amazing things happened and I found a peace and contentment which words can barely describe.

This is not just a question of getting in touch with your spiritual side or getting your work life, family balance correct. This is about finding purpose, meaning, and indeed significance for your life. In 2010 I would like to offer you all a resolution and a challenge. The resolution is - will you try to find out where God is leading you? The challenge is - if you have never asked God to give you some direction in your life, why not ask Him this year? In the middle of February, we will have our Alpha course. Watch out for the signs. Many people have done this course and it has helped not only to discover God but also the true meaning of life. Why not this year see what God is saying to you, and more importantly, what He has in store for you?

It is my experience that God loves me so much He only has good things to give to me. I am sure that is the same for you. Why not find out for yourself this year?

With every good wish,
Yours sincerely,
Jonathan Ford.