These were the opening words of the address given by the new Archdeacon of Suffolk, Revd. Canon Dr. Judith Mary Hunt, at her Collation on 9th. October. Woodbridge’s Parish Church was honoured to host this wonderful occasion and St. Mary’s lived up to all expectation.
Prior to ministry, Judy was a vet and related hilarious tales of one particular day in that post: called at 5am. to a difficult calving in a filthy cowshed; next, assisting at the first ever hip replacement on a dog; that was followed by a call from Woburn to a camel with colic; late in the evening, an egg-bound budgie was brought to her!
What was the connection between these stories and her new post? Diversity! Judy listed the diverse features of Suffolk and its people: from city to rural hamlet; heavy industry to small business; wealth and poverty; thriving communities alongside struggling families. This, she explained, was a reminder and reflection of her Archdeaconry and God’s world, with all its differences.
Many see ‘difference’ as a problem, a divider, a source of suspicion. But Judy suggested that we should celebrate diversity: the first disciples were individually very different; faith is diverse; there is widespread difference within the Christian Church, in styles of worship, interpretation and thinking. Referring to the two Bible readings, Judy emphasised that we can be held together by Christ and united in His love, whilst retaining our individuality.
Surrounding her address were some stunning sights and sounds: the large ecumenical choir, drawn from across the diocese, excelled in their spine-tingling performance of “The Heavens are Telling” from ‘The Creation’ by Haydn; in the expert hands of Dr. Giles Brightwell, the organ music was breathtaking; a reading by ten year old Lucy O’Brien was confident and beautiful; the welcome to Judy from representatives across the county was warm and sincere; three Bishops, throngs of robed clergy and numerous bearers of chains of office joined the large congregation to fill this beautiful Church which was bedecked with glorious flower arrangements; the singing of well known hymns lifted the roof, with meaningful words such as ‘You are the centre, Lord, of my life’, ‘Brother, sister, let me serve you’, ‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord..is here’, ‘Take my life’ and finally ‘Thine be the glory’.
After the service, the congregation joined Judy for a reception in St. Mary’s Church Centre, where she further experienced the warm welcome and hospitality this county, diocese, town and parish offer her.
We wish her well in her new post of responsibility. As Judy begins her life in Suffolk, we extend our love and congratulations, knowing that Chester has lost a very special lady, but assuring them that we will hold and respect her as they have done, and look forward to more inspiring sermons here at St. Mary’s!
Chester’s loss is our great gain. Welcome, Judy.
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