Letter from our Chair – March 2024

Revd Kerry Tankard, our District Chair, shared this letter in our March 2024 Newsletter…

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, REJOICE!” Philippians 4.4

Dear friends,

There are many joys and privileges to serving as your Chair, and I am very fortunate to be writing this letter as I enjoy one of them. I am on retreat with Northern Church Leaders, and we are being blessed and graced by the reflections and insights of Revd Dr Susan Durber, a URC minister who is currently elected to serve as the President of the European Region of the World Council of Churches.

She has invited us to reflect on joy, and its place in our lives. She has done this not from abstraction, but from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. A letter written by a man in prison, who is conscious of the threat to his life, and yet who tells the Church at Philippi, time and time again, to rejoice, not on one occasion or another, but “always”!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a much later disciple writing from prison, would also speak of joy and tell us why it is possible: “The joy of God has gone through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross; therefore it is invincible and irrefutable.”

I think these are words we need to embrace and receive, as they define joy not as a fleeting fancy, or a delusion, but an act of resistance, and a protest against overwhelm.

Across our churches, among ministers and volunteers, there is a genuine awareness of struggle, overwhelm, fatigue, and in some cases even a sense of failure. All of this can lead to a sense of denying joy, but joy is being given to us. Joy is possible, and beautifully defiantly so.

Yes, things can be hard in many of our churches, communities, and lives, but there is a real invitation, in the this season of Easter, to remember that Christ has lived such hardship, Christ has died at the hands of others, but God also overcomes all of this in Christ and shows it in his resurrection. Joy is possible, not simply as an idea, but as a truth to be received and celebrated.

What will it mean for you to be joyful, even in your own metaphorical prison? What will it mean for your church to be joyful, even amid anxiety and concern? I invite you to receive joy, to live joy, and to allow joy to be with you in everything that is happening.

God bless,



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