John Mitchell (1929-2015) introduced himself below at the beginning of his blog. His obituary is here.
It is not unknown for a mother to embarrass her brood: I speak from experience – like others do. I particularly remember one period when blushes were in evidence. I was but a lad of 20 years and the reason for my sensitivity? My mother talking to a neighbour about my imminent departure to train to be a Methodist minister! Her little tit-bit of information referred back to my boyhood. One Sunday morning at church no less than eight babies were presented for baptism. I was impressed; after lunch with the cooperation of my sisters we set up church in the ‘parlour’; that’s what we called it then. My sisters brought their dolls to the minister who was garbed in towel over shoulder, his father’s stiff collar back to front; and with the redundant smoking stand serving as the font, the dolls were duly christened. In telling the tale – mother’s punch line, “ I think John was destined away back then for the ministry.”
I was born in Greenock in July 1929 to parents who hailed from two different and widely separated parts of Scotland, my Dad frae Aberdeen, Mum from Kirkcudbright. Both emigrated to Renfrewshire, Dad to join the Police, Mum as a nurse. They had three daughters after I was born. I left school when I was 14 – I should have gone back to school after the summer holidays of 1943, but instead remained on the Kilmacolm Farm where I had spent the holidays. Two and a half years on I embarked on an apprenticeship in engineering, building steering gears for ships. I met Chris, my wife, a short time before College, but we were not allowed to marry until after Ordination in August 1956 (Church rule!) We are proud parents of two daughters and their partners – Anabel and John; Elspeth and Winston and their daughters, Harriet and Cassie.
Most of my life has been church orientated and varied. I was baptised in the Church of Scotland with Sunday School and Life Boys; then in wartime the Salvation Army – I played the trombone. Finally and happily I became, and remain, a Methodist. On graduation from College in 1953 I was sent, as a probationer minister, to the Moray Firth to be minister of Findochty and Cullen churches. In 1956 I was ordained in Brunswick Chapel, Leeds. Our first home, where the girls were born, was in Haltwhistle in Northumberland, a rural appointment. From there we moved to Sunderland in 1962 to Thompson Memorial Hall. After six years I became Superintendent Minister of the Newcastle Mission at Westgate Hall. Sadly, the conclusion of my ministry at the Mission in 1968 coincided with the closure of the Church.
My final circuit appointment was Superintendent at Consett, the steel town in County Durham. In 1980 I moved from Consett and the lively congregation rather reluctantly, called to a different kind of ministry. Methodist churches are organised in Circuits – the circuits in Districts under the leadership of the Chair of District (Chairman in my time). I was to be Chairman of Newcastle upon Tyne District for 14 years. Over the years in addition to the ‘normal’ work of local church and circuit I served the District as Youth Secretary, Assistant Secretary of District Synod and Secretary of the Synod. The District extended as far North as Eyemouth, West to the Village of Halton le Gate, South to Hetton le Hole; go East and you would get your feet wet! Someone asking what a ‘Chair’ does was informed by a Methodist friend “Oh! he/she is our bishop!” Not everyone would agree!
In 1994, I retired back to the West of Scotland and continued preaching until 2012. Now it is time to follow my calling in a different way with this blog. I am delighted that you are reading it – please feel free to use it, to share it and to comment.
Blog administrator: Anabel Marsh