Derrick’s appointment at the end of 2011 to start with as our Interim Minister and then in 2016 as our substantive Minister was unique in more than one respect: he was the first ‘foreign born’ Minister and the first from the Presbyterian rather than the Congregationalist tradition. Perhaps most important though, his appointment reflected the multi-cultural nature of our church and our town.
In many ways, we can claim to be the world in one church. A high proportion of our members are from Ghana. However, we have members from all over the UK, from Europe, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and other countries, for example, our support for a child in Ecuador.
As we got to know him, we began to enjoy his exciting and challenging preaching and appreciate his pastoral care. I’m sure many of us have personal stories we could share about his support in difficult times. We learnt to join in when he started singing spontaneously and knew that we could be called upon at any time to lead prayers or read or speak.
He has kept up the traditions he found, such as the Walk of Witness, on one occasion playing Jesus, and established new ones such as the Watchnight Service on New Year’s Eve. He has led us through the process of re-development so that now we are at the point a new church is becoming not just a dream but a reality through his hard work and persistence.
We shall miss him (but maybe not the late-night emails) and wish him, Phyllis, Sedem and Sena every blessing in the future.