Since my last musings about identifying a possible charge, I’ve had a chance to have a wee tour around a few places. Not so much to meet the people, but more to get a sense of the geography and ‘place’. That said, I did have an opportunity to meet up with some folks on one of the visits.
It’s been a useful exercise. I guess I had a slightly idealistic image in my head about what certain types of places might be like. I was pretty certain I didn’t fancy a city centre-style charge, or even a large town. This is still the case (I think), just don’t ask me to justify it too much. It’s more a gut-reaction than a well-reasoned position. So I had moved in the opposite direction towards more rural charges, but knowing that ‘real’ rural wasn’t quite my thing either. Whatever, I decided to have a look around a few places which more or less ticked the right boxes.
As it transpired, semi-rural doesn’t really appeal all that much either. Without a doubt there are many attractions. Beautiful locations, often with a large manse with plenty of space. The church buildings also tend to be very nice and often occupy a central position in a community. I’m just not sure I’d be up for the relative ‘isolation’. And perhaps I’m just too lazy to enjoy the thought of all that mileage for visiting or funerals or hospital visits. Maybe it was a slightly rose-tinted picture I had in my head, but I still needed to see the actual ‘reality’ of a place to get a sense of whether I could settle there.
One of the places I considered was more along the lines of what I had in mind. Definitely more urban but still relatively compact and well-defined as a community. So that one is still bubbling around the list. Its big ‘plus’ was the light it shed on yet another visit. One that I had glanced at in passing previously but hadn’t seriously considered. Can’t remember why now, but it was simply noted and then passed over. Then its profile arrived through the post (unsolicited) and that prompted another look. This time the visit involved actually meeting people and an opportunity to view church and manse.
It wasn’t what I’d had in mind, yet it ticked so many of my notional boxes. There would have to be some manse work negotiated, I suspect, but there were no obvious big red warning lights. Not a ‘spark’ but a definitely discernible flicker. And a sense of ‘yeah, that would work’ – not in a ‘can’t think of anything better’ way, but in a genuine ‘I could see myself here’ way. Of course, there’s still the ‘other side’ to take in to consideration – will I be the sort of person they want?
The strategy now is to find somewhere similar and do a ‘compare and contrast’ exercise. And I suppose that’s where this initial foray into serious charge-hunting has been beneficial. It has helped clarify the sort of place I’d be happy in. And so that helps narrow down the short list potentials for a start. It also helps focus the mind on what to look for when turning a more critical eye on a place.
So, the search continues (that sounds familiar – maybe an Apprentice-style competition between congregations might help) but with growing illumination along the way.