Psalm 68 says: “The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host.” It seems fitting today, as we thank Jennie Milne for her great service to St Paul’s, to quote from the Psalms. They are the passion of Jennie’s life and they sum up her exuberance for who God is and the adventure He’s called us into.

It’s all too easy amidst the heavy burden of church ministry to lose sight of why we do this in the first place, and what makes it all possible, which is the love and power of God’s Spirit. But one of the most inspiring things about Jennie is that she always travels with God close at her side. She lives, as Eugene Peterson says, in a “Psalm-shaped world,” constantly turning life and ministry back into prayer and encouragement. In the words of the Psalmist she is always announcing the good news of God, and she is also a great host!

Which brings us to the second thing we love about Jennie. As many of us within the staff team and congregation can witness to, Jennie’s generosity and encouragement know no bounds. Even in her busiest times, she seems to have endless space to show care and support for other people. Ever since we arrived from Vancouver three years ago, Jennie has been a constant source of hospitality and reassurance for us personally, but also a strong leader guiding her team through the changes and challenges of the last season. So we’re thankful for her energy and joy, which are infectious.

Of course, as the old saying goes (or should have gone): “behind every great woman there’s a great man”! Scottie and Jennie are pillars of our church, and they’re an inspiring example of a couple ministering together as a powerful team. So, we’re very aware that although Jennie has been on our staff team, Scottie has also been a constant presence with her, delivering courses, encouraging our families team, and sitting on Vestry. We’re looking forward to all they have to offer St Paul’s in the years to come.

Jennie has achieved a huge amount in her five years since taking up the reigns of the families team. Everything she does is fired by a passion to see relationships, families and children flourish. We’re thankful for all the ministry areas and initiatives she’s built up over that time, but especially for the strong staff team she leaves behind. We’re praying today for Jennie as she oversees the challenging transition of her parents into managed care in Christchurch, and the words of Psalm 91 shape those prayers:

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”

Rev Jonny Grant