n the Old Testament there are two archetypical, and quite different contexts, that Israel came to associate with God’s presence – the Tabernacle and the Temple. During their wilderness wanderings, God gives Israel instructions for a holy tent in which God would travel with His people, moving from one place to the next. Wherever they went, God went with them. Later, once Israel was settled in the land, Solomon famously built the Temple in the holy city, which became the ‘permanent’ dwelling place of God.
Borrowing these two images, by analogy, brings into focus what Andy has been to St Paul’s. Within an established context like St Paul’s, familiar patterns, rhythms, traditions and ministries tend to become like the solid walls of the temple – permanent, immovable and irreplaceable. They are the life-giving places where we have experienced God with us and so they become precious. But they can also eventually become places of stasis, where we get bogged down or miss the new direction that God is taking us. When I think about Andy, I am reminded most of the Tabernacle – the meeting place between God and his people, which remained dynamic and responsive to new places and new directions.
Andy has been a creative leader in the best sense of the word – full of vision and ideas, but combining that with openness to God’s leading. He has been at the heart of so many of the ministries and initiatives at St Paul’s over the last 8 years, including Worship Central, GLOW and the worship albums God with Us and Creation’s King, to name just a few. But, even more importantly, he has been sensitive to the wind-shifts at various points and so able to set his sails in a new direction. A great example of that has been the development of Alt Carols as a fresh way of re-telling the Christmas story. Like his own hairstyles over the years, Andy has been able to move with the times and live well within them.
But here’s the twist. There’s also a way that Andy has been more like the Temple than the Tabernacle. We often judge a leader by how we experience them when they’re with us. But, actually, the true test of leadership is what leaders leave once they’ve gone. Andy has been a great leader among us over these last 8 years. But the enduring testimony to his leadership is what he leaves behind – more like those solid Temple walls than tent canvas. Andy leaves behind a mature and thriving worship team and in Chris a leader who can lead them and us into the next adventure. So, we want to thank Andy for his incredible season at St Paul’s. Just like Israel’s ancient worship spaces, Andy has helped to shape a context in which we have experienced God with us. Thanks Andy – we will miss you!
Rev Jonny Grant
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