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Reform Magazine | December 5, 2023

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Serve those who served

Serve those who served

Should those who spent their working lives helping others be left to struggle alone? Andy Bottomley shares stories of retired ministers

Let me tell you about a man, a respected minister in his day, who, since he became widowed, has found it hard to face the outside world and has tended not to want the outside world to enter his one-bedroom flat. Bills went unpaid, letters unanswered, appointments for a diabetes clinic missed. Now he has trouble with his eyes and feet – possibly all for the want of opening an envelope.

Stories run through every culture: Long or short, happy or sad, romantic or thrilling, from the rocking of the cradle practically to the rolling of the hearse. There have been stories for as long as there were people to tell them. We all tell stories and we all have stories to tell – life furnishes us with them and we are only too happy to recall them, shaping them into a tale others will hopefully want to hear.

The United Reformed Church Retired Ministers Housing Society (RMHS), the provider of retirement housing for the denomination, has a growing number of stories to tell. There are stories which celebrate life in later years – such as the retired minister who at 93 still holds regular Bible studies and prayer meetings in the bungalow the RMHS provided, or the minister who, as a lifelong supporter of Burnley Football Club, became, in his retirement, the clubs’ official historian.

You will also find, behind many a front door, stories of enthusiastic retired clergy regularly leading services. You’ll find a high number of train or cricket enthusiasts – quite often both. You’ll come across a number of birdwatchers as well, not to mention those who in retirement have taken up their brushes and pens to produce commendable pieces of writing, art and craft…


This is an extract from the July/August 2015 edition of Reform.

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