It's really great to be here
Hello: To begin with.
I am Revd Simon Bale, the new vicar in the Benefice of Athelney, writing my first of many monthly letters for the magazine. I am actually writing this in the second week of January still trying to make sense of all kinds of things this new year. I am not one to dwell on The New Year but it is impossible not to notice the '21 rather than the '20, and to muse, "new year, eh? I wonder what that will be like... this time." By the time this gets to you, early February, I suspect we'll still be locked down, still in the midst of that infernal virus, and still wondering what happens next.
I am also writing this in Bridgwater where I currently live, waiting to know when I might actually move into the vicarage, and wondering when I might be able to meet people and shake their hands rather than rubbing elbows or asking them to zoom.
So, again, hello-ish.
Here's a bit of background from me. I grew up in Bristol where I lived for fifty-one years until in 2013 when I was ordained and moved to be the curate at St John's, Highbridge and the adjoining parishes of Mark, and East and West Huntspill. I arrived in Bridgwater in 2017 at St Francis of Assisi and am now coming to The Athelney Benefice, with great enthusiasm.
I am married (to Louise) and have two grown sons and an almost two year old granddaughter, who I have not seen anywhere near enough of since she was one year old two days before the first lock down began. There's a lot more to me than those 'facts', of course, but I am looking forward to meeting you and sharing each of our stories in real life.
At the moment I am like a dog with two tails. Being appointed to be your new vicar is extremely exciting and I cannot wait to begin my new role; Louise and I are also very keen to take up residence in the vicarage. But--of course--the pandemic is making all that a bit less straightforward than we'd have hoped. To begin with, following my licensing (a Zoom affair on 4th February), I will be commuting to the benefice each day to work out of the office in Stoke St Gregory. My intention is to be visible but abide by the lockdown regulations. So, if you see an overweight, out of condition old geezer in a mask on a bike: please give me a wide birth (I'm driving to the benefice, by the way: I'm way too unfit to cycle here and back!)
For now, I pray that our current challenges will be reduced, that we can care for those who struggle with the isolation, and that the future will reveal all kinds of new blessings for us all. Amen.