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 Message From Our New Vicar...

It is with a great sense of delight that I and my wife Sandra look forward to our move to Meppershall and Shefford.

I've served as a parish priest for most of my life, and at each new appointment I've been reminded of the enormous privilege that comes with this role. Thankfully the work of a Vicar is by it's very nature a corporate responsibility, and from what I've already gleaned of the life of the two parishes, I'm excited by the prospect of working with the conscientious people involved in the Churches, and with the wider facets of local life. I'm also interested to learn that there are seven? pubs in Shefford, not to mention a brewery, nor forgetting Meppershall's 'Sugar Loaf'. So no problems then about a 'thirst after righteousness'!

Currently I'm Vicar of two parishes within a Team Ministry south of Slough bordered by the M25 and the Thames, namely Wraysbury and Horton. This is semi-rural territory with marked London influences, and regular reminders of Heathrow just up the road (and yes we do miss the daily roar of Concord with all her splendour). This was agricultural land before reservoirs and development, and now the main language on our only working farm is Russian, due to the lack of local skilled staff. So part of the Churches' agenda is to do with addressing the needs and aspirations of a rapidly changing population, and trying to express the relevance and constancy of the gospel in ways that engage and affirm.

I believe that the state of Christian faith in Britain at present creates enormous opportunities and challenges. The great majority of people recognise their spiritual hunger, and most people are happy to describe themselves as Christian, yet the corporate dimension of faith is on a none too steady downward slope. The remedies aren't clear cut, but I sense that
the Church is being called to be uninhibited in her creativity, self critical where necessary, but above all confident in the unchanging God whose face we see in Jesus. The Church was never called to be a self-preservation society, but a self-giving community where prayer, fellowship, service, partnership and a trust in God's compassion are major players in the work He generates.

I look forward to getting to know new names and faces and starting to play my part in all this in just a few weeks time.

With good wishes,
John Harper

Date 31st January 2004

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