On Sunday 11 September, the Revd Malc Allen led his final service at St Michael and All Angels, Bishop’s Cleeve. Over 200 members of the local worshipping community attended to wish Malc well for his retirement after 26 years of ordained ministry.
Following his training at Trinity College Bristol, Malc became Curate at Holy Trinity Boston, Lincolnshire in 1996. Then in 2000, he moved back to Cheltenham, a place he knew well. Before training, his sending church had been Holy Trinity, Cheltenham, where he had been the Pastoral Assistant and Youth Worker. He then became the Team Vicar at St Barnabas in West Cheltenham Team ministry.
Malc says, “I loved it there. Life in Rowanfield and Hester’s Way was both challenging and rewarding.”
The move to Bishop’s Cleeve happened in early 2009.
Malc says, “The call included growing the church family to reconnect with families and its community. It’s been quite a journey, and sometimes a very hard one. God has been my constant companion and I have been blessed by lovely people who, like me, wanted to share the love of Christ with a wider diversity of people. I thank God for the amazing things he’s done, and for the people he has always placed around me as we’ve prayed and led together.
“I will miss hugely my view of Cleeve Hill, the fantastic warm and friendly church family, and this great community.”
Kathryn Lea, on the Church Leadership Team, helped to organise part of Malc’s send-off, giving a ‘This is your life’ style presentation during the service, sharing some of Malc’s highlights … and haircuts.
Kathryn says, “We have been so thankful to have had Malc as Rector here in Bishop’s Cleeve and the wider benefice for over 13 years and he will be missed by so many. He has led us as a church into a deeper and closer walk with the Lord and has continually encouraged us to spend time with, and be more like, Jesus in all aspects of our lives. In the wider community, his gift of drawing alongside people, particularly in the most difficult times, will have a lasting impact for many. His leadership, friendship, teaching, wisdom and love for the community have been a huge blessing for us all and we are grateful for his time here. We know that God has more in store for Malc as he retires and pray his retirement will be full of more journeys and adventures.”
After the service, the church family gathered in the rectory garden for a buffet lunch in the September sunshine and the chance to catch up with old friends and new.
While his formal post is ending, Malc isn’t planning on taking things too easy. “I’m full of anticipation and hopefulness for the future. I’m hoping to complete a fitness course qualification I had to pause a while back and continue trail running, and get into my Trusteeship with the wonderful Black Trail Runners. Chaplaincy at Cheltenham Town FC will continue. And, in due course, I hope to be able to use my gifts and passions wherever God sees fit.”
Andrew Young, Churchwarden, says, “As Malc has felt called to retire and move on to the next step of his walk with God, we in the churches have had occasion to look at where we are as a benefice and the journey we have all been on with God over these years as well as the direction we believe God is calling us moving forwards. As the shape and size of the villages have changed over time, we can see how, as churches, we too have moved forwards with God, introducing new services and different patterns, new ways of getting close to God with our ‘Church on the Hill’ services, and the Breakfast Church services that are so popular in Southam and Café Church across St Michael’s and Gotherington. We have also seen substantial improvements in the fabric and facilities of the buildings over this time as well as increased outreach, with huge steps being taken in the work with young families and children’s work. We look forward to the future but recognise what a blessing Malc has been to so many people in and around our villages.”
Malc says, “I’ll still be in Gloucestershire, in a tiny hamlet a few miles north of Cirencester, amongst new friends, in a glorious corner of God’s vineyard. I feel both excited about what God has got for me in the future, and a little daunted as I think through what life will be like on the other side.”
St Michael’s is in the process of recruiting a new Team Vicar. For more information and updates visit the church’s Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/stmichaelsbishopscleeve