Introducing Your New Rector and Family Gilbert
It is with great excitement that I, along with my family, look forward to joining you in the New Year. The Service of Collation and Induction will be on January 26th but we intend to move in soon after Christmas so please do introduce yourselves before the formal introduction if you see us around.
We are coming to Minchinhampton from Cirencester, where I have served for nine years as Associate Vicar with specific responsibility for Holy Trinity, Watermoor. During my ministry at Watermoor we have worked hard to broaden our age profile and, though it was never easy, I am pleased to say that working to make the church relevant to a new generation has been fruitful. During this time, I have developed my ministry on a wider stage, firstly as chair to the Bishop’s Advisory Group for Deliverance Ministry, then as Cirencester Area Dean, and most recently I launched a new Bishop’s Advisory Group for I.T.
Looking further back in time, I grew up a Methodist in Marlborough. Aged 18, God called me to become an Anglican Priest and I joined the Church of England and headed off to Southampton University to read Philosophy. Having completed my studies, I moved to Newbury where I met my future wife on a Church Pilgrimage. After a brief career in financial services we were married and moved to Cuddesdon (near Oxford) where I trained for ministry. I served my curacy in St. Barnabas, North Dulwich, in the Diocese of Southwark. St Barnabas is a large and vibrant church with a fine choral tradition and a highly professional ethos and I have been able to apply many of the lessons learnt to my ministry back in the West Country.
I am married to Susannah, who has recently started training as a secondary school maths teacher following a first career as a Government Economist. We have two children, Daisy and Lucy, aged 7 and 5, both of whom are very excited about moving to a new community that boasts Highland Cattle, and a Rectory with a ‘secretgarden’! They will of course all introduce themselves in person very soon!
You might also like to know something of what we like to do when we’re not working. Susannah and I are both active people and love skiing. We have spent two winter seasons in the Chamonix Valley and love to ski away from the crowds. The riskier side of back-country skiing has taken a back seat since the children were born and we have focused more on cycling and triathlon. Whilst in London we both completed the London Triathlon, raising £3000 for Mercy Ships, and then when the opportunity of a sabbatical came my way last year I trained for the Kalmar Ironman in Sweden. I am proud to say that in 14 hours, 17 minutes and 7 seconds, I completed the 2.4 mile sea swim, 112mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon, raising a further £5000 for Mercy Ships.
Looking to the future with you in Minchinhampton, I am passionate about bringing the Good News to the next generation, within a context of excellent liturgy and music. We will need to consider together how exactly we achieve our mission, but I am determined that we will have some fun along the way. Having said that, your reputation as a very sociable parish precedes you, so I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all over a cup of tea, or something stronger!
I feel very privileged to be joining Minchinhampton as the Rector. I hope that I shall prove a worthy successor to a long line of wonderful clergy who have served in this place, and I pray that together we shall be as a city set on a hill, whose light cannot be hidden.
Yours in Christ,
Reverend Howard Gilbert