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Church in Community Officer, Tim, says farewell to IBEX after 5 years

After 5 years the time has come for Tim to lay down IBEX duties, as Church in Community Officer. A number observant among will recall that I have served this role under the United Reformed Church’s Special Category Ministry scheme, which runs in 5 year terms. In late 2017 I succeeded my predecessor, the Rev Cliff Bembridge who had retired from the same role after his term completed. Now has come the time for me to step down, as my term completes.

It is not a complete ending though. More Auf Wiedersehn than complete goodbye. The work of IBEX South Coast, especially the workplace chaplaincy coordination continues, as does the Social Media engagement work, and it was good to be part of the October 12th conference when those initiatives were relaunched, and I gave my swan song, so to speak. Watch out on the IBEX website for videos from that day.

For now I remain living in the area, continuing to serve Buckland URC, Portsmouth, and other local Churches in a form of ministry called Interim/Transitional Ministry. It is a few years before I may retire to sunny climes, Climate Change dependent, so will hopefully be occupied on meaningful pursuits.

There have been highlights and challenges. Not least the effect of the Covid lockdowns for at least two of the years of my term. We tried to move operations online, by resourcing the website, and hope you continue to find material published as ‘How To’s’ and blog thoughts, useful for ongoing reflections. Zoom has become a constant friend, and it has been fun to educate, and amuse, and maybe bemuse some through interesting backdrops. And no, I never was on the South Pacific tropical paradise, with swaying trees in the background, sadly. But it was fun to imagine one might be one day. In many ways it was good to end online, conferencing; and as said above do watch out for the pod casts and blogs that will emerge in due course, on the IBEX website. As you read this there are still Churches and Community Groups preferring to meet online, and hybrid, through good old Zoom, so the effects of Covid are still worth us, and will be for some time to come.

When I could it was a highlight to travel across Hampshire and Dorset and more widely getting a sense of the economic and social issues concerning the area, and its people of faith and allies in the cause attempting to engage. As ever much could be done, and with IBEX’s limits of people resources we might regret that we could not do more. What has come over though, is the value of partnerships, which enhance and complement the offering one can make, such as the work on homelessness and emergency food provision around Portsmouth. The challenge I ponder in working predominantly through partnerships is whether, and how, to forge one’s own identity and values? It has also been good to try and advise Churches on developing themselves in serving the communities in which they are set.

A lot of my day to day engagement has been around Portsmouth and the Solent area, and it has its social challenges, but also many good things to mark – more than many might credit to the area I suggest. At least the M27 Motorway traffic enhancements are finally complete after almost 4 years slowly wending my way at 50mph past new overhead gantries structures and such going up, on my way to gatherings of one sort or the other.

With some wistfulness I sign off, becoming like you dear reader, another interested recipient of these newsletters and the news of ongoing work of IBEX and its partners. To misquote a bible verse, I hope I may have planted some seeds, which God waters (it is raining outside my office as I type these words) and brings to fruition. We only play a small part in the great social enterprise, in words attributed to Oscar Romero, that people of faith call the Kingdom. And does it not seem a little strange that writing that today, we are in an actual Kingdom now, with the passing of the late lamented Queen Elizabeth. Changes in life, through death, and the life to come, are constantly before us. May we look forward and onwards and upwards in all our life giving and enabling endeavours.

Rev Tim Clarke


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