God's new plan for retiring vicar

She was supposed to retire, that was the plan. But God had other plans in mind for the vicar of Christ the King, Meltham, the Revd Maureen Read.

For Maureen is going back to the county of her birth, Shropshire, to lead four rural churches and two church primary schools in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Over 320 people came to say farewell to Maureen and her husband John at her last Sunday Service last Sunday – with a good sing song at a Songs of Praise service in St Bartholomew’s followed by a party in the church hall.

The Deputy Town Mayor of Meltham, Coun David Haigh and other local dignitaries were there to present Maureen with a Meltham Special Service to the Community Award – the first vicar ever to receive it!

Said Maureen: “I had it all planned. I thought it was going to be retirement next year after 20 wonderful years teaching followed by 20 years next June 28th 2018 of ordained ministry. Instead God's plan is once more very different from mine.

“And of course I said “Yes”,” she added.

Maureen will be licensed in the Benefice of The Meres and Meadows, Shropshire, in the Diocese of Lichfield on October 14th. It’s a benefice of four churches but on a much smaller scale than Meltham. It is a part time Incumbency and the total population is less than 1600 with the biggest school having 73 children – fully subscribed!

Said Maureen: “The message I was getting through my prayers was that I needed to slow down but not stop!”

Maureen spent 20 years teaching 3-16 years old maths with particular expertise as a special needs adviser across Manchester, and she loved it. Her parish church was St John’s, Hurst Ashton under Lyne – her parish priest, our very own Revd Jonathan MacGillivray, who now serves Darton and Staincross in the Wakefield Area. She immediately got involved; reading, intercessions, and became Churchwarden, she knew God wanted something of her.

She was ordained in 1998 – sponsored by Manchester diocese as a non stipendiary priest – and went back to school, convinced she could continue with her career in teaching. God again had other plans. In July 1999, she put the chalk, the classroom and the timetables behind her and instead of going back to school in September, she turned up for her first day of work in the Parish of Leesfield, Oldham, followed by the Parish of Heywood.

“Since forever, my life had been run by timetables, it came as a massive shock to start running my own day and really took some getting used to,” said Maureen.

She came to Christ the King, Meltham, Huddersfield in January 2009 and was immediately struck by the community feel and sense of the place. Meltham Churches Together is the closest partnership she has ever known and she has always been very proud of the way the communities work and support each other so well. When they needed to raise funds to repair the clock tower, it was raised within a couple of months.

“This was brought home to me very keenly with the death of Private Tom Wroe who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

“Everyone got behind the family; every pub has a picture of him behind the bar; there were fundraising events; campaigns for a lasting memorial and I know this was a tremendous support for those closest to him at that time and still today.”

When she first came to Meltham, Maureen was introduced to the ‘Cock Crowing Stone’, on the West Nab Summit and knew she’d found her spot for Easter Morning services.  

She’s already found her Cock Crowing Stone down in her new Benefice in Shropshire, a mound near one of her four churches, Petton Church, which sits at the foot of the Brendon Hills. From this small mound, on a clear day, you can see across to five Counties.

That’s where Maureen will be for sun-rise next Easter Sunday 2018.

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