It was a great pleasure to welcome the Rev John Jenkinson, our former minister, now retired, and 17 ladies were present to listen to him. At the moment John feels as if he has "half" retired! He is the interim moderator at Mold Green URC, Huddersfield and has conducted weddings and funerals there and at his former churches in Halifax. More relaxing activities are walking the dog and helping Amy to settle into her new home! John has spent 40 years in ministry; the last 16 with us here in Dewsbury. His question was-would he do it again? The answer was an emphatic "Yes!" He has been blessed with a diversity of ministry with people in church congregations and hospital settings.( Even until recently and for 18months he was on call for the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals to help with emergencies at all hours.) As a young man John attended Highfield church in Rockferry, Birkenhead. This was a church that invested in young people and encouraged them. So after his return from the Merchant Navy and a period of training as a supermarket manager he left there aged 21 to train for the ministry with its full support.( John is soon to return to this church to take a service.) John trained for 4 years at the Congregational College at Whalley Range in Manchester. As a student minister he went to a little church in Broadheath in Cheshire and he tried to build up the congregation. After a second student pastorate there Joh was asked to become their minister. It was an exciting ministry over the next 5 years and, working together with the older people in the church, the membership increased from 60 to 120. For much of this period Johnwas a batchelor spoiled by cake donations from the ladies of the church! Then he met Valerie at a holiday conference! The rest, as they say, is history! From Broadheath John accepted a call to Halifax. There were 2 ministers for 4 churches with a total membership of over 300. When the other minister left John was on his own for 2 years until a new minister came.They considered the needs of their community; many were elderly or unemployed. The Government initiated a scheme whereby churches were asked to employ unemployed people and were given financial backing. They provided day centres for toddlers, care for the elderly and a stroke club run five days a week to which 150people would come each week. Sixty people were employed by the churches. They reached out to large housing estates where there were lots of lonely people who needed practical help from small tasks such as changing a light bulb to more adventurous projects such as landscaping gardens. During this time John also did chaplaincy work in Halifax. After 12 years John was invited to be ecumenical to an Anglican based chaplaincy in the hospitals in Bradford. This involved building up good relationships with other faiths in Bradford as at that time there was no provision for them in the hospitals. John had to initiate consultations with others in order to build a new Faith Centre at St Luke's Hospital in Bradford. To achieve this he had to visit all the other places of worship. Eventually, after being advised to move on, John was invited to Longcauseway, here in Dewsbury where he spent his remaining 16 years of ministry but he always retained his deep love of hospital chaplaincy. One of the most satisfying periods of his time here was the coming together of the Methodist and URC churches.
John does not know what the future holds for him but he does know that God calls ministers to the ministry for life and that to him is an exciting project.
We are grateful to John for giving up his time to speak so openly and sincerely about his life as a minister. He has made a tremendous impact in different places and reached many lives. He has indeed responded and is still responding to God's call.