A letter from Revd Tim Buckley, to the parish of Widcombe
Dearest church family,
My sabbatical as most of you will know – was such a precious blessing for me and my family – time walking, praying and filming in Scotland on pilgrimage and on silent retreat and then some incredible six weeks in the States meeting with various leaders in and around Chicago before driving the west coast highway as a family together for over 3000 miles! What an amazing adventure!
Now I’m back in the city, I just wanted to take some time to pass on some news that I shared this Sunday at our family services at St Thomas’ and St Matts, which I know not all were able to attend.
During my time away after much thought, prayer and reflection, I have come to a real sense of God’s new leading for me and my family in this next season. I’ve wanted to be able to share sooner, but because of the complications of diocesan protocol and needing to speak to the right people in the correct order, I’ve needed to pause before being able to communicate with you all what I’m about to share.
To cut to the chase – I have returned from sabbatical with a definite sense of God calling us as a family to new things and so immediately upon my return wrote to the Bishop to inform him of my sense of God’s leading for me to stand down as vicar of the parish – indeed I had an incredibly special meeting subsequently with Bishop Michael at the Palace, to share what God has been saying to us as a family.
This will inevitably be a big step of faith for us as family in terms of having no plans / job to move to, or income! but both Sarah’s and my conviction (and helpfully that of our children too) is that God is very much leading us to take a step away from parish ministry in the Church of England in this season to explore new adventures, new ways of shaping and resourcing church and their communities.
Whilst we will clearly have to think about income, we are greatly blessed by being able to move into our house in Southstoke with my wonderful mother-in-law Sue and so plan to remain in Bath, living there for the foreseeable future.
The Archdeacon, wardens and PCC have of course been made aware of this decision and I was able to finally share this news at our morning service and in the evening service at St Matts.
It’s really important to me that as I leave, I want to completely honour the post and place in which I serve, the leaders I serve alongside and under, and perhaps most importantly, you my church family that I have sought to serve as best as I can for approaching a decade, and so am very keen to leave as positively and honouring as possible.
My 3 month notice period will conclude at the end of November and no doubt we will later plan how best to celebrate together as joint churches to say a proper farewell.
I know this will be sad or shocking news to some (perhaps a relief to others!) but I am so thankful for that sense of family, partnership, and friendship with you all, as we journey together over these next few weeks and months. I am excited for all that God is going to do amongst us in these future days and seasons.
Of course, I’m happy to chat anytime and am keen not just to leave well, but also to take the time to process this well with individuals and with all congregations, the 8am, the 10.30 here at St Thomas’s and at our worshippers at St Matts.
In closing, my heart and prayer for each of you would wholeheartedly echo these beautiful words from Numbers 6:24-26 throughout this new season.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace”
Thank you for you love and partnership in the Kingdom.
Tim, Sarah, Ellie, Sam & Joe x