‘Goodbye’ to Rev’d Julia!

On Sunday, 2nd July our Curate, Rev’d Julia Myles presided and preached at her final service with us, before she goes to take up her position as Priest-in-Charge of the Arle Valley Benefice in Hampshire. We shall miss her very much, and wish her, her husband Paul and daughter Rachel all the best for the future.

Moments from Julia’s Time at St Michael’s

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A Word From Julia

There is a song I love us to sing when I lead worship at our fabulous school, St Michael’s C of E Primary. The refrain goes “God behind, God beside, God ahead”...with actions of course! It is my belief in the truth of these words that I am holding on to as the time to leave Alnwick has arrived.

God is always behind, beside and ahead of us, in each moment, surrounding us with His love, holding us when we fall, guiding us when we feel lost. Yet I can also look back at the four years that are now behind me and remember how He has surrounded, and held and guided me since I became your Curate in July 2013.

I remember my first sermon mentioning how the word Alnwick rhymed with panic…and I have had a few moments of panic in the four years! I can recall being overwhelmed as the reality and privilege of being ordained really sank in that first time and then the intensity of the learning curve! I can honestly say I have not been bored in four years!

The privilege of this job is always present in my mind and there are many things about my time here that I treasure. The way this job draws me into the lows and highs of people’s lives at baptisms, weddings and funerals is so very precious to me, as is being present at defining moments of a person’s Christian walk. The privilege of presiding at communion really comes home as I see the row of people kneeling at the rail, hands held open as they come to receive the spiritual food Christ gives us. I am always aware that it is God in me that meets God in you as we meet at that rail, at coffee, at events and meetings, at school or in the street. That time behind the altar however, as I pray over the bread and wine and as I offer it up to God and out to you is one of those moments that confirms my calling. I still marvel at how it is that I got here, but in that moment I simply know that I am in the right place with God. My confidence in presiding comes also from the careful and patient training our Vicar gave me. For this and for the many other things he has taught me, as well as his care for me as a whole person I will always be grateful.

The privilege of preaching is one that takes a lot of effort and brain-ache (and wrist ache on the keyboard) and probably the thing that I most worry about. I sometimes feel sorry for the congregation who are ‘trapped’ there and forced to listen to me politely !

You might have noticed that I love working with children at Mini Michael’s and in school. There is something about the unknown reactions, the thinking out of the box, the depth, the innocence and the honesty of conversing with children and young people that really keeps you alive to new possibilities and really challenges you as you seek to respond honestly in return. It also keeps you humble and is a huge amount of fun. My Thursday mornings have so often lifted my spirits and tiredness has vanished (until later!) because of the buzz of welcoming the community of under 5s & their families, and the Mini Michael’s teamwork that makes it happen. Whenever I visit our school I never cease to be impressed by our children and staff. It is not only a place of wonderful educators who really care that the children get a stimulating and top quality experience, it is a place where children learn to value and respect themselves and others and to be good human beings. I will miss all the children and particularly our Junior Church families very, very much. At the other end of the spectrum I have gained much from becoming a member of the Mother’s Union and getting to know our select bunch known as Alnwick branch as well as speaking at other local branches. This will prove to have been particularly important as one of my four parishes is Old Alresford, where Mary Sumner began the Mothers Union. (Did I mention the watercress and the steam railway?)

It has been a privilege to have played a part in of some aspects of Alnwick’s community life; the dedication and commitment of the Community@NE66 and Gallery Youth teams is immense, despite having to spend too much time seeking financial resources that are woefully lacking. It has been a great pleasure to have occasionally been involved with the Town Council and Armed Forces and Playhouse. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Christians Together in Alnwick & with Contagious, visiting the coffee mornings and churches as well as the weekly meetings for prayer with church leaders. I have been able to gain wider experience of ministry in other parishes and have felt warmly welcomed and appreciated when I have covered in the Embleton Benefice, in Amble, Whittingham, Widdrington & Ulgham……….Thank you for all these formational opportunities.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention my regular places of refreshment in Alnwick; the businesses who have kept me going in my busyness! The two Costas and Bari Tea will experience a drop in custom as I leave -so do go in and have something for me!

I have mentioned groups and congregations as a whole but of course there are individuals with whom I have had more regular contact.There are too many to name but they know who they are. From the moment I first met Albert at the font and he said “ You know we are always here for you don’t you? “, there have been those who have consistently supported and encouraged me, prayed for me and been there to help practically as well as give time for conversation. Thank you for keeping me going.

Speaking of going we must all look ahead now. I am off to try and be obedient to God’s call and His mission in the Arle Valley and you remain to try and do the same here, individually and corporately. We are all still in the same family business, just in different places now. We are all part of the same body with Christ as our head, and it is through His Holy Spirit that we are joined as one. That makes it all sound easy, but I know already, as I approach my last day that it will be extremely hard and sad, for all of our family. There will be tears from me you can guarantee, but in those tears will be the sadness of leaving and the joy of having been here with you all.

The name of Saint Michael’s and all the people of this parish will always be intertwined with my formation as a priest, with my own spiritual formation, and of course with my heart. What better words to leave you with than the closing prayer of Mini Michael’s …… with actions of course!

“May the love of Jesus hold you, the love of Jesus keep you, the love of Jesus guide you until we meet again”

The Last Service

Rev’d Julia led her final service at St Michael’s on Sunday, 2nd July at 10am. During the busy service Julia preached her final sermon for us, with the help of children from Junior Church and others. She presided over the Eucharist, and, toward the end of the service, was presented with a gift from Junior Church, and other gifts from the congregation of St Michael’s. After the service we enjoyed refreshments as we bid our final ‘farewell and Godspeed’ to Rev’d Julia, her husband Paul, and their family, and we give thanks for their ministry among us.

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