Tomorrow will be our little church’s last service led by our current minister. The Rev. Barry Welch is off to pastures new and we will be taken over by a lovely new minister but Barry will maintain a strong presence in my memory.

Barry was the first minister from whom I recieved Holy Communion. Feeling unworthy, I struggle to chew the bread and to swallow the wine. He has made me realise that Communion is a way to draw nearer to Jesus – not a reward for good service.

Barry also conducted my membership service and confirmed my role as worship leader. He also gave my son his first communion.

His sermons reflect his inclusive attitude to religion and we all, usually, go away thinking that the words he has spoken were meant for us personally. That’s a real talent for a public speaker. And daunting for those who also hope to preach!

I have thrown a number of rather difficult questions at Barry over the years including how to interpret the ten commandments and what God’s definition of marriage would be.  We even discussed whether repetitive prayer was “nagging” at God. In every instance, his responses have been both kind and thoughtful.

What I will most remember Barry for are the words he uses in the communion service; after saying that Jesus took the bread, he always says “just ordinary bread”.  We, Jesus’ followers are like that bread: just ordinary. It is what God, through the teachings and sacrifice of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirirt, does with us that is extraordinary.

God bless you Barry Welch x


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