The next stage

An update from new Trustees (and former missionaries) Paul & Marjorie Dowling

People sometimes ask us how we’re finding our retirement. Our answer is usually “We don’t know yet”! It’s been such a strange time since our retirement and return to the UK last year in the middle of the pandemic. Most of the things we’d expected to do just haven’t been possible – at least until recently. Having said that, it’s been far from a wasted period. We’ve settled into Harrogate – a town we knew well as for many years we came to visit Marjorie’s parents who lived here. We’re loving being near our son and his family, including our two delightful granddaughters, whom we see regularly. We’ve also enjoyed spending more time with our daughter Fiona and her partner Ross. And we’ve settled nicely into our new churchKairos Community Church, an Anglican “fresh expression”, built around missional communities. We’re gradually working out where we fit in in the church, but a potentially key part of that is a little French conversation group that we’ve started, modelled on the English conversation group we ran in Châteauroux. It’s small but has started well and we’ve twice linked up by Zoom with the group in France, a development that we hope will lead on to further things, such as exchange visits when that once again becomes practical.

One sadness is that, due to the pandemic, we’ve not been able to go back to France to visit our friends, nor receive visitors here, though we very much hope to be able to do so before too long. We always felt that we’d like to be able to continue to support the church in France in some way during our retirement – though, even during the lockdowns, we’ve had a lot of contact by Zoom! We’re delighted that Elcio & Sueli Rocha have moved to the Perspectives church in Châteauroux as the next pastoral couple and pray that the Lord will bless their ministry there. We’d also like to pay tribute to the Church Council who’ve kept things going so well during the period between pastors, especially during a pandemic, and, in particular, to Daniel & Jenny Villaudière who’ve done a wonderful job in leading the church through this challenging period. As they say in France, “Chapeau!” Please pray for the church in Châteauroux and for Elcio & Sueli as they enter this new phase of ministry together.

One way we’re able to support the work in France is through France Mission. The Trustees have kindly invited us both to become Trustees and we’ve accepted with great joy. We’re learning our way through the various administrative complexities of modern-day CIOs (Charitable Incorporated Organisations) and are looking forward to contributing to the encouragement of the French church through FM.

In the last few weeks, it’s been great to see things start to open up and to be able to enjoy a bit more social contact, including beginning to catch up with family and friends around the country. One of our other aims is to get out and meet local people outside the church and so Pilates classes (for Marjorie) and Italian (for Paul) are on the agenda and we plan to explore joining a local choir as well. Our prayer would be that the Lord would guide us in the use of our time so that we may continue to be fruitful for Him in whatever way He leads in our retirement. May we ask you to join us in praying for this, too.


Paul & Marjorie Dowling

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