From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

March 2023: Identity

The dictionary definition of the word “identity” is the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. That for me goes something towards describing the word but there is more to it than that. If I were to describe the identity of a person then the answer would be complex and multi-faceted, and even at the end of the description, however long it was, it still would only be scratching the surface of a true identity.

The identity of each of us will include the heritage of our family. How one family brought up their children including their education and values will form part of it, but also the stories they told or the songs that they sang form a rich tapestry of an individual's DNA or identity. Even the food of your past shapes who you become later in life, both in a positive and negative form. The origin of my wife Lorna, who is Irish, meant that every main meal started with potatoes, and the meat and vegetables were definitely secondary. I soon learnt that if you wished to complement the meal then you needed to say something about the potatoes!

Alongside your family upbringing and stories “place” can help to define a person's identity. If your family home is a place of security to allow an individual to flourish and grow it shapes the person. Conversely if the home becomes a place of fragility or tension it can infuse the whole of someones being. Widening the sense of “place” a little further, certain parts of the country have their own identity, let alone specific countries. Most of you know that I have spent much of my life in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Cheshire. Each of those places have their unique quirks, stories, songs and dialect. Many people will have a proud connection to where they are born, such that we get phrases like, “Yorkshire, God’s own country”!

Just as individuals have an identity, so does a church, made up from its heritage, the unique hotchpotch of individual saints and sinners, past and present that define who it is. Equally it’s context helps define it, adding still more flavour and interest to what is seen.

Within Methodism’s itinerant ministry model, the idea is that the particular identity of Sidmouth Methodist church is paired with a minister. Specifically now a Northern lad with a passion for music, food and golf, but who is also a committed community connector who blurs the edges between church and society. What comes out of this interaction will form the new identity of the church and the minister. I will continue to listen to your story, but at the same time I will share my own story, and in the melting pot that comes out of that interaction my hope and prayer is that we will find God’s mission for Sidmouth and then join in. I look forward to the journey with each one of you, and collectively as the church.

Please note whilst I have been in Sidmouth for some time now, there will be a formal welcome service on the evening of Sunday 26th March.

With my regards and prayers

From the Pen of Rev Steve
The identity of each of us will include the heritage of our family