Sunday 6 September 2020 saw the Admission of Mrs Susan Swindale to the Office and Ministry of Local Preacher in a special service held at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Harlow.
The Service was led by the Revd Blair Kirkby, Superintendent Minister and the congregation was made up of 20 or so folk 'social distanced' in the church, and a larger number from churches around the Area together with Susan's friends and family joining the service via 'Zoom'.
Sadly, the Covid-19 restrictions prevented congregational singing, but Mrs Maureen Buxton enhanced the service with voluntaries on the Organ before and after the service.
Mr David Swindale, Susan's husband, read the first lesson from Romans 5.1-5, and Mr Fred Arthur, a local preacher based at St Andrew's, read the Gospel from Luke. 4.14-25.
Revd Debbie Hodgson who is the Local Preachers Tutor for HAEBEA delivered the Sermon which drew inspiration from both bible readings noting in particular these words from the letter to the Romans;
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Miss Gillian Amphlett, secretary to the Local Preacher Meeting, presented Susan for admission. After questioning Susan about her call and willingness to serve, Revd Blair invited all present to stand as a affirmation of support whilst he formally admitted Susan to Office & Ministry of Local Preacher.
Miss Amphlett then read the letter of congratulations and affirmation from the President and Vice-president of the Methodist Conference.
Susan then addressed the congregation and 'Zoomers' expressing her thanks to all who had supported her through her training, in particular the congregations that have embraced her creative styles of worship and Mrs Elizabeth Stockdale who mentored her. Susan displayed her creative talent in a specially written 'Ode to Debbie' in acknowledgement of the support and friendship that Revd Debbie Hodgson gave as Tutor.
The service concluded with the blessing given by Revd Blair Kirkby.
The retiring collection for the HAEBEA Training Fund raised £ 100
Despite the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus social distancing rules, the service had a real feeling of joy, celebration and thanksgiving to mark the culmination of Susan's journey to becoming a Local Preacher for which we all say, "Thanks be to God!"