17 years ago today we came to St Mary’s Pype Hayes to be their servant in Christ. My first parish as parish priest, vicar, servant, apprentice father and husband. It was the place we were called by God to bring our passion, make our mistakes and share our lives. We did not have a plan but we agreed not to move until our daughter left education, she had been in a number of schools due to our commitment to following our call as a family. When we came to look at the parish our daughter of 9 years refused to get out of the car saying “I’m not getting out at this tip” she was right we were surrounded by derelict houses used by drug dealers and vandals. Our vicarage was recommended by the local glaziers to have plastic windows fitted due to constant vandalism. My son was quietly calm about our move and the loss of his friends, he made his move into his new school with sense of confidence I have always admired. During the early years Erin and I regularly lay awake in bed listening to groups of young people shouting, screaming, laughing, gathered in the dark, celebrating life and the absence of future. Awake Knowing the morning would require clearing up the broken glass, plastic bags with glue, needles and the signs of celebrated human passion shared on the lawn of the church, at the bottom of our garden. There have been some very dark moments we shared as a married couple. 17 years on change has happened. The children have moved away and both still to my immense pride and amazement worship in their relevant church’s. In the eyes of the world we have achieved very little in the eyes of the church I am a vicar of a parish of insignificance. But in the midst of all we have gone through we did not doubt our call to this place, it makes no sense to some. 17 years on Erin and I are still trying to live fruitfully in this parish. Unfinished.