The Revd Dr Gavin Wakefield writes on his retirement as our Diocesan Director of Training for Missional Ministry

In the end, it’s all about people (well, and God!).

I’ve had the privilege of serving across the diocese of York as the Director of Training for more than a dozen years and what I take away as I retire are memories of so many people. And first, it is those people whose faith in God has begun, deepened, grown, been transformed. Those people who have discovered that God has called them into new life and new ministries, and given them confidence to live this out. These words of St Paul have encouraged me as I look back:

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

There are my wonderful colleagues, past and present, in the Diocesan Training Team. They give so much of themselves to serve and support others. To mention them all here would make this very long, but I want to thank Terry Joyce - who is also retiring - for his wonderful work in the Archdeaconry of York and in developing continuing ministerial training opportunities for clergy and lay people in the whole diocese. Besides those folk officially in the team, so many more of you have contributed to this work and every Zoom call seems to remind me of this!

It has been very special to be a member of the wider diocesan team. We have such dedicated and capable people in each department who work hard serving the parishes, and also make for a great working environment in the office. I have enjoyed working closely with the team at Wydale Hall, and more recently with the Safeguarding team. I remember with thanks the diocesan leadership team in its various configurations: we have been blessed with wise and godly bishops, archdeacons, Deans, and the one Diocesan Secretary throughout this time! I have been fortunate to learn from them all.

  • Lower picture: Pictured after a dinner at Wydale Hall to mark the retirement of both Gavin and Terry, from left: the Revd Canon Terry Joyce (Clergy CMD Adviser and York Archdeaconry Training Adviser), Debbie Joyce, the Revd Fran Wakefield, and the Revd Dr Gavin Wakefield.

During this time the Training Team has developed many things for our mutual benefit. I wonder how many of the following opportunities you have benefited from?

A whole variety of one-off and short training opportunities (some under the CMD label), extensive training for curates, the Leadership programme for incumbents, lay training for Readers and Recognised Parish Assistants (RPAs), listening courses, York School of Ministry, Leading your Church into Growth (LYCIG), developing Deaneries, SPIDIR, and any number of events and days for parishes and other groups.

If you haven’t been on any of these yourself I am confident you will know people who have!

Clearing out my files has reminded me of so many things that I’ve been involved in - the list above is not exhaustive - and the praying and planning and hard work that has gone into it all. But in the end, the bits of paper and the computer files are not important: it comes back to the lives that have been changed, the communities built up, the injustices challenged, the hope given in dark times, the love that has been put into practice by meeting with God.

So I look forward and encourage all of us to rejoice in our calling as “letters of Christ, … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”