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St Thomas Church, Musbury
A Message from the Bishop of Burnley
As we keep the feast of Epiphany we are reminded of the great mystery of God's revelation of himself. What must Mary and Joseph have thought as these strange magi with their mysterious gifts turned up at the front door? What must those wise men have thought as they saw that God's total revelation of himself was a frail, little child? It can sometimes be hard to fathom the ways of God.
As we have prayed together for Fr Terry and his family in recent weeks, all of us must have been wondering quite where and how God is at work in a situation such as this. Whilst Terry has been improving, the progress has been slow and we need to keep him, Cheryl and the family very deeply in our prayers. We must also go on trusting that even in such a hard situation, God is at work, revealing his purposes, even in ways our limited human minds struggle to comprehend.
It will obviously be some time before Terry is able to return to ministry and so I have been giving some thought to how best the spiritual needs of your two parishes are met. I am incredibly grateful to Jude, David and Stephen for all they have done and will continue to do. However it is clear that two Parishes of such size need a greater level of priestly support.
I am pleased therefore to tell you that Fr David Stephenson, currently the Assistant Curate of St Peter's Darwen, will be moving to the Parishes as Associate Vicar of Haslingden and Musbury from the middle of February for a period of 12 months. This appointment has been made with Terry's knowledge and consent. Terry will of course remain Vicar and David will technically be his assistant. However, whilst Terry remains off work, David will fulfil his duties which will include oversight and leadership of the Parishes and chairing PCC meetings.
In the midst of the mysterious events of Epiphany, God's glory was revealed to the world in the child of Bethlehem. The purpose of local churches such as St James's, St Thomas's and St Peter's is to show that same glory to the communities you serve through worship, witness and service. Even as we keep Terry in our hearts, that work must continue, and I know that you will work closely with David to develop the vital mission and ministry of these very special parishes.
I am immensely grateful to David for taking on this role at very short notice. I will license David to this new ministry at some stage in mid February and these details will be passed on to you as soon as they have been agreed.
You know of course that you are constantly in my prayers. Be joyful in worship, be generous in service, be fervent in prayer and may the Lord who revealed the light of his glory to the Magi bless you always with that same radiant splendour.