June Dunning spoke to us following her recent commissioning as Local Missional Leader for St Philips Westbrook.
We asked June how she feels about her new role and the opportunities and challenges ahead:
In a former life I was a primary teacher for 37 years. I have been married to Les for 39 years and we have one son who is a journalist. Five years ago we took early retirement and for the first year we travelled at home and abroad, taking advantage of cheap travel for the first time, with an amazing trip to Oberammergau- a profoundly moving experience.
I spent my early years and youth at St Ann’s church, which is now a climbing wall business. I was confirmed, married and my son was christened there. I led the choir, played the guitar, was a PCC member, secretary and led youth services and worship. 17 years ago, at a crossroads in my faith journey, I moved to St Philip’s and immediately felt like I had come home. After our travels I became Church warden and then our church went into Vacancy- a sharp learning curve!
The greatest challenge to me is also the greatest opportunity, to reach out in love to all those who come through our doors and who have not met God in a real way and to make God relevant in the busyness of today’s society. We have many young families coming to church because of our church school. This is a wonderful opportunity and privilege to engage with them and to sew seeds. The challenge is to move beyond Sunday and to form relationships during the week.
I know how important Father God, Jesus my Saviour and the Spirit; my guide and my comforter, have been in my life, through the good times and the bad, and I want to share that Good News with all those coming through our doors and show them that their lives can be transformed too.
I also work in our church school and this is a wonderful opportunity to speak to staff and children about God’s love for them and His place in their lives. Although a large school, it has a real family feel and spirituality. I have been welcomed into the family and it is a privilege to share my faith in assemblies, in lessons and in one-to-one conversations.
I believe that God is saying to me that church has to be more than just Sunday – that our doors should be open during the week, which may be the worship centre but may be another building offering peace and fellowship; an oasis in the midst of the rush of the world.
In a sense, I have been living this role of LML for the last four years but the difference, I hope, will be in greater access to training and support. My Commissioning service was a very special day. My church worked very hard to make it a perfect occasion and with a number of the key people in my faith journey present, it was the way that I wanted to start this new phase of my ministry.