David: It was on a Baptist Union retirement course at Swanwick that I was reminded how the years have passed by since March 17th 1943. I grew up in a small terraced house in Handsworth, Birmingham with mother and father and two grand parents. Father died when I was nine years old and we supplemented the family income by offering a home to John Kurowski who had fled Poland at the outbreak of WW2. John married Margery and she also came to live with us and then Andrew arrived on the scene (now a producer with the BBC).
There are many defining moments in life but for me the most important was when I became a Christian through the influence of Peter Ledger, now Rev Peter Ledger (retired).
Faith has been the defining experience of life but during my late teens and early twenties I struggled through considerable questioning about faith but emerged with a stronger faith as a result. In many ways this was a hard time but since then I have been used to help others with similar questions.
I started work at fifteen years of age and after some months was apprenticed to the meter department of the (then) Midlands Electricity Board. After meeting Linda at a BMS summer school I moved to Watford and worked at the Building Research Establishment Garston, Hertfordshire. It was here I was introduced to working with industrial electronics.
A little while after we married we moved to Bromsgrove for twelve years and were very active in the work of New Road Baptist especially in youth work and preaching.
It was at Bromsgrove that the first sense of a call to ministry became clear and to that end we moved to Bristol as a family. By now we had three lads, Justin, Keith and Timothy. I studied at Bristol Baptist College for three years but didn't go straight into ministry. This was actually a fruitful time because I was able to observe the workings of an evangelical church with the perspective of theological training. During this period Linda had the second of several major operations.
It was while we were at Bristol that I took my first steps to another defining experience in life. I learnt to fly gliders aged sixteen and took up hang gliding while I was at college. At one time I had the distinction (or notoriety) of being the only ordained pastor in the UK flying hand gliders.
While waiting for a call to a church I worked at Southmead Hospital and became head of electronics. During this time it was both a responsibility and privilege to be a guest lecturer at the Engineering Training Centre of the National Health Training Authority at Falfield in Gloucestershire, lecturing in the theory and use of electro medical equipment. In 1990 we were called to what is now Witard Road Baptist Church, Norwich. This was a start to ministry which brought great blessing to us. After a shorter pastorate in Swindon we served at Highfield Road Baptist Church, Dartford, where again we have seen great blessing and encouragement. During this time all the lads have left home.
Linda: These last few years Linda has been reminded that her birthday, 6th February was a special event (in 1949) because we always seem to be celebrating it at the Pastors Consultation of the London Baptist Association.
Born at the (then) Shroedells Hospital, Watford, Linda grew up in Levesdon Road and Gammons Lane, North Watford. Working in a number of jobs after leaving school she was engaged as a punch card operator (data entry before PCs) when she took a holiday at a Baptist summer school in wales in the university town of Lampeter in 1968.
During her two weeks stay there a young man asked her to take a scenic trip around the coast and upon driving into the little seaside town of Borth the car broke down. Somehow this drew them together and on October 11th 1969 they married at Beechen Grove Baptist Church, Watford. The service was conducted by Revs Maurice Williams and Ron Collett.
The sense of call to ministry really came first to Linda who has been a rock solid support through the years of ministry we have given together. This support has been unwavering in spite of a series of fairly major operations which unfortunately Linda has has had go through, however she has come through them well and her future health prospects are excellent.
This is a season we came to with mixed feelings. After nearly eight years at Highfield Road we retired at the end of June 2009. That had been a time when we have seen progress in the life of the church in many ways and although the flesh has just a few hints of creaks and groans we feel both excited about retirement and sad as we shan't be as near to friends in Dartford as well as family.
We accepted a call to complete one more year in ministry at Highfield Road and, really for our welfare, the church extended this by an additional three months in order to help the housing requirements and complications that so often happen at retirement.
We have been rehoused by the Retired Baptist Ministers Housing Society and there is a testimony in this to God's gracious guidance, the wisdom of the leadership of Highfield Road and the care of RBMHS. Because the society wasn't able to follow it's usual practice of rehousing to an area of choice because of the housing market we initially accepted a very small bungalow at Wimborne Minster but due to the three month extension we were in a position to be offered a fine house at Seaford in Sussex which is all we could possibly desire. It's location is suitable for us in every way. We hope our friends will come to see and stay with us. If there are any relatives lurking in the woodwork now is the time to come out. We have ample facilities to accommodate any who want to have a holiday with us.
We are currently enjoying retirement and finding plenty to keep us fruitfully occupied. In spite of considerable surgery over several years Linda remains healthy and we are enjoying being active in all sorts of ways. Outside church and family I (David) have the following interests which continue. Computers, which I build and service and especially running Linux operating systems; Walking, and we are in the middle of excellent walking country; Hang Gliding, which I would like to get back into if a troublesome catilage will allow; Reading, and I have already enjoyed being able to read some very thoughtful and informative books; Faith and Science, I am enjoying exploring the relationship between faith and science and have found Biologos - a website founded by Dr. Francis Collins who headed up the human genome project of particular value.
Linda now has a room of her own where she can write poetry, browse and read books and withdraw whenever she wants. It's very much a 'ladies room' and her personal domain.
We thank God that on 11th October 2009 we celebrated fourty years of marriage. We are looking forward (DV) to celebrating fifty years marriage later in 2019.
I thought it might be interesting to take stock of what I (David) am actually doing at this moment in time as I am approaching the grand old age of 76 years in March (DV).
Worshipping at St Leonards C of E.
Home group leader.
(Due to health I have cut back on several things recently)
All in addition to reading, a little less walking (due to osteoarthritis), being grandparents, and an ear for those needing to talk and - well - generally enjoying life.
It's called retirement.
One more point, in pastorate I had the distinction, notoriety or interest to be the only pastor of any Christian denomination in the UK to be active in hang gliding. My previous interest being conventional gliding.