This January marks a moment of change as my predecessor Kit Dollard hands on the baton of responsibility to serve as Chair of Marriage Care.
Saying ‘goodbye’ is both a bittersweet moment as a friend moves on and the opportunity to look back with gratitude for all that Kit has achieved in the last six years. Kit is an inspirational leader: witty, affirming and, above all, kind. His blend of talents are the result of his faith, his marriage to Caroline and their family life, plus a career that encompassed the army, city, property and Church. It is therefore fitting that we raise a glass of Ampleforth Cider or tipple of choice in thanks.
January is both a time for looking back to reflect on the past and to look forward, in anticipation, for new surprises. When we look back, we should try to do so with gratitude so that we can address what we felt could have been better and to see the ways that God is drawing us into new adventures at His behest.
Back in January 2015 I found, to my surprise, that I was drawn to an advert for the post of Head of Centre for Marriage Care Bournemouth. It was to prove a defining moment and took me onto a new pathway in life through a deeper involvement in the marriage and family ministry. I also became part of a new family that has been serving the Church and the wider society since 1946. This image of the family, with all its joys and messiness, defines the heart of this organisation as it prepares couples for marriage and heals those who are hurting.
Then in January 2018, I was drawn to an advert for the position of the Marriage & Family Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Westminster. So, began yet another new, daunting yet exciting journey in a ministry which is central to the life of the parish and society. It is also central to my life and a joy to see the ways in which so many give of their time and talents to this ministry of service.
Now, in January 2020, I find myself surprised again by God as I become the next Chair of Marriage Care, which reflects the image and purpose of its wonderful community of volunteers. As a husband to Jackie, the father of five and grand-father to three little ones, I am conscious of the graces received in marriage and family life.
As a husband, I have discovered that love changes and becomes richer. As a parent, I am now more aware of recognising the joys and knowing that insecurities and conflict are part of this rich tapestry of love. As a grandparent, I have discovered how to be a better parent and have learnt to walk alongside their parents.
January is a time of change. The weather might be gloomy but the anticipation of Spring is in the air. I now look forward with joy to serve and guide Marriage Care as it enters the next phase of its exciting and worthwhile ministry.
Written by Deacon Roger Carr-Jones