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Message from Chris

Extract from quarterly Taney News magazine - September 2020

I thought I might say a few words by way of introduction, though I’m probably no stranger to you at this stage. I had the privilege of serving and worshipping alongside many of you during a placement in Autumn 2018. I also had the joy of speaking at your Uniformed Organisations’ Service in February 2020. These were such wonderful experiences from my perspective, thanks to the warmth of your welcome and all the extraordinary people who make Taney Parish the place it is. I look forward to getting to know you all better, as your Curate Assistant, after my ordination to the priesthood on Sunday 27th September.

Growing up in rural Armagh, my parents, Linda and Nigel, helped to foster my sense of vocation. They held me in their prayers (and continue to do so), taught me the good news that Jesus is ‘alive and at large in the world’, and encouraged me to spot him there. Later, they would do the same thing for my younger brother, Owen. Faith, for each one of us, has been about daily courageous trust in who God is, what he has done in Christ, and what he continues to do in our lives.

As many of you already know, one of the most significant moments in my own life of faith occurred during my time in medical school. While attending a celebration of the Holy Communion, I had a sense of my own identity as someone who is loved and invited by God. Coupled with that was a strong
sense that God was calling me to share his hospitality in the Holy Communion with others. I had experienced a similar sense in my early teens, and – to cut a long story short – I left my studies to pursue training for ordination with the Church of Ireland.

After two wonderful years of full-time study in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, I had the privilege of completing an intern year in St. Andrew’s Church, the Parish of Killyman, in the Diocese of Armagh, after being made deacon on 1st September 2019. It has been a memorable few months for so many reasons. We have navigated through many “changes and chances of this fleeting world” in the most recent ones, to borrow a phrase from one of the collects at Compline. Each news bulletin seems to change the world a bit more. I hope you have been taking good care of yourselves – spiritually, emotionally, medically – during these constantly changing times. Thankfully, we “may repose upon” God’s “eternal changelessness”, as the same collect goes on to reassure us.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The past holds for him no missed opportunities, the present no anxieties, and the future no uncertainties; so, we can entrust our past into his mercy, our present into his love, and our future into his care. A change in ministry is always a new adventure – perhaps this is even more the case in this new territory we are all learning to navigate! In these days of change, please pray for me as I am praying for you.

For now, all that’s left for me to say is, “See you soon!”

Chris West

Curate Assistant