Harnham Free Church in Salisbury has been my Christian community for the last 18 years or so. Yesterday afternoon they laid on a farewell tea for me and for Mike and Kath Hitchings who are also planning to move away in the near future. A lot of people turned out. After sandwiches and piles of home-made cake Cliff (one of the elders) made a little speech about my contribution to HFC. This felt weird, it was a bit like attending my own funeral! Then they gave me a card and a gift of books. It was a touching occasion and I did feel a bit choked by the end.
Harnham is quite a staid church, conservative evangelical, averse to charismatic display, light on men, and quite elderly - at 44 I'm one of the youngsters! They've been through rough times in the last few years, but things are looking up at the moment, with a steady trickle of new people quietly coming to faith. I'm fairly optimistic about their future.
I've heard several times recently that divorced Christian men often feel marginalized and left out of church life. This was not my experience at Harnham. To their credit they continued to make use of me and ask me to serve in various ways, they even invited me onto the leadership team a mere year after my divorce. I'll always be grateful for their support and continued belief in me through those difficult years.