Sister Joan Macey

I was born is Plymouth and have a brother who is four and a half years younger than I am. We had the privilege of being brought up in a Christian home.

When I was 16 my father entered full time pastoral ministry and as a family we moved to Cardiff where we spent the next six and a half years before moving to Ilford, Essex. 1966 my parents moved to Blackburn but I stayed in Ilford and it was then that a local vicar suggested that I should think about training to enter The Church Army. After attending a Church Army selection weekend I felt the Lord was leading me to apply and I was accepted for a place on a three year training course at Blackheath in South London.I found the training strict, challenging and hard work but very rewarding. It was also interesting and had its fun moments.

Commissioning day was a great experience when, at Southwark Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Donald Coggan, laid hands on me and commissioned me as an Evangelist in the Church Army and I was sent to serve in an inner city parish in Leicester. I was delighted when I discovered that my new vicar was the grandson of the founder of the Church Army, Rev Wilson Carlile. He had also been the Chief Secretary of The Church Army. My responsibilities at St. Michael’s included starting a new Junior Church, outreach, pastoral care, conducting Sunday services and funeral services, monthly Friendship Group Meetings as well as generally covering for the Vicar. I enjoyed a very happy time in Leicester.

My next parish was St. Matthew’s, Preston, an inner town parish with three churches. For seven and a half years I was involved in Sunday services, monthly mission services, children’s holiday clubs, pastoral care, weekly Bible study groups at my own house, hospital visitation and funerals. After I had been at St. Matthew’s for three years the Vicar was taken ill and eventually had to leave the parish. It was tow years before a new vicar was appointed and although I found myself even more involved it was a very happy time.

My next move was quite local compared with my previous ones - just up the M65 to Colne Parish Church, affectionately known as ‘Bonnie Colne on the Hill’. It is a beautiful church dating back before 1066.

Once again I threw myself into my duties with great enthusiasm and besides assisting the Rector I started a Mums and Tots Group, a mid week children’s group and a weekly Bible Study group in the Parish Hall. I found the parish very friendly and it was a great shock when after only eighteen months the Rector was taken ill with a brain haemorrhage and had to take a year’s sick leave before retiring. Once again I found myself having to take more responsibilities for the next two years until his replacement arrived. This involved virtually everything except celebrating communion. The Rector had been very keen to start a course called ‘ One Step Forward’ and despite his absence we continued with the training and set up 33 prayer triplets in homes all over the parish. This was a great success and we saw many answers to the prayers of the triplet groups.

When the time came for my retirement it was a great wrench to leave Colne. For just over ten years working in the parish had been my life and I was thankful that I could take away many happy memories. I shall never forget the fantastic farewell that all my friends in the parish gave me and I thank the Lord for their kindness and continuing friendship.

We moved to Blackburn to live but after two months I was taken very ill and rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. My father died a short time later. The following three years were taken up with further major surgery which has left me feeling less active than before.

I enjoy living in Mellor and I love the church clock - it reminds me of Colne Town Hall clock! Mellor also reminds me of my early years in Plymouth when I was able to look out on the country fields. I thank the Lord for the support and companionship of my aunty.

Sister Joan Macey