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Reflections on retirement

In this article, the Revd Margaret Simmons, Vicar of St John the Baptist Church, Hillmorton, reflects on approaching retirement.

I’ve been given a choice of two topics for this short article: The joys and challenges of serving our community through baptisms, weddings and funerals (the Occasional Offices), or the joys and challenges of approaching retirement.

Both topics are close to my heart! And both involve deep issues of transition.

In Hillmorton, we take many Occasional Offices. There’s nothing really unique about what we do here. In common with colleagues across the diocese, we aim to thoughtfully and prayerfully offer a personal service to each family, whether for a baptism, wedding or funeral. We love to do our best to show the love and compassion of Jesus in each of these very significant milestones in peoples’ lives. We offer preparation events for our baptism and wedding families, and ran a “Grave Talk” event last year which we plan to repeat this month, during “Dying Matters” week (14th-20th May)

However, may I share my reflections on retirement?

I do wonder whether this could/should be a fourth “Occasional Office”?

I’ve already retired once (early!), from a nursing career in the NHS, and received very good and helpful preparation leading up to this significant milestone in my life. One size didn’t fit all, and there were a variety of options open to me as I approached the transition to becoming a “retiree.” If I’d wished, I could have returned to work the next day, working less hours and enjoying a pension! What’s not to like about that idea!

Now, I’m approaching retirement again soon, from a place and people I’ve loved, and I’m wondering what the future could hold.

I believe we (the diocese and the local church) could do more to acknowledge, love and support those in our churches and community (including clergy) who approach retirement.

We could do this by listening, and by offering flexible and creative preparation for new roles and responsibilities to those who want it.

Let’s be brave, think differently to old patterns, show the love and compassion of Jesus, and make room for the gifts and offerings of all!

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