On Saturday many of us met together to celebrate the life of the Windermere Centre and mourn its closure. The decision to close the centre was contentious and that was understandable, but the debate wasn’t just about resources and priorities of stewardship. It involved a place that many had found and treasured as a spiritual home, a building and far more than that, through the friendships made there and the experiences shared there over thirty years. People will give testimony to how Scripture was opened up to them in new ways, how faith was enlivened for them, and confidence grown to share the Gospel. No wonder there was a tangible grief in the service, and this was recognised in prayers and sermon, silence and conversation, hugs and goodbyes.
We sang a beautiful hymn by Jan Berry, with the author present, (copyright Jan Berry 2017, but I am sure she would provide you with a full text if it would help you). The hymn ended with words, intensely powerful yet sensitive to the Spirit:
We grieve for a place where the story is ending
doors and dreams closing on all that is lost;
in struggle and anger we hold to our mem’ries,
a home in the Lakes that bears too high a cost.
We long for a place where new vision can flourish,
dreams and ideas springing up in dry ground,
we mourn for the passing of all that we’ve cherished,
and hope for a future where God can be found.
This theme was taken up by Revd Tony Burnham, which was so clearly of Christ – facing up and recognising the bad news and the terrible feelings and yet seeing the need for Faith at this time to see through the mystery of God’s purpose to what comes next. Nothing in the life of the centre has been in vain, or wasted, but God will use the lives of all who have been transformed by the centre, and all who want to carry the torch for all the centre meant as a place of learning and training, healing and inspiring God’s people. Much to thank God for and much to pass on. And so we prayed our thanks for the founder Stephen’s vision, for the leadership of the directors, Graham, Peter and Lawrence, but also for the many staff and volunteers for humble service to God’s kingdom. And I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for hospitality of Carver Chapel and the shapers of the service, the many who came to offer support to others – all who enabled this occasion to have deep meaning, the holding together of even deeper grief, but deepest of all, our Faith in God.
My own prayers ended with:
As today the weather has given us rain for our tears, cloud for the mystery of God’s purposes, and wind to remind us of the presence of God’s Spirit – we now need the vision of Faith – to Walk the Way into our unknown future. As the house is cleared, and the door closed, windows of opportunity shut and the pathway soon overgrown, where is the journey of Faith to take us, to find another spiritual home?
We pray for all who will go on bearing the Good News, through prophet and preacher, evangelist and community builder, teacher and pastor, administrator and financier, host and servant.
new ways of witnessing to your Kingdom, knowing the power of the God’s Love
new service in your kin-dom, brothers and sisters in Jesus’ Way
And so we honour Windermere as part of our kynren, our story of this generation,
as the Spirit’s gift and legacy to inspire the next.
Lord grant us closure to re-pitch the tent of your presence.