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Calderdale Methodist Circuit : Graham Smith

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Born in Huddersfield, I spent most of the first ten years of my life in Cheadle, Cheshire, where I have good memories of attending Sunday School on the estate where we lived. As neither of my parents were religious, when I returned to Huddersfield for my final year in junior school, I lost all contact with the church. I did, however, always have an inner sense that I should be a part of the church and had a number of friends who were Christians but there seemed no opportunity, no entry point.

It was whilst I was studying for my A levels at Huddersfield New College that I was eventually re-introduced to Christianity by a friend who invited me to church. It just happened to be Methodist. On leaving school I became a trainee librarian, studying by day release to become chartered to that profession and worked at the Huddersfield Public Library for six years.

During this time I found a firm faith in Christ in the Christian community at the Lindley Church, in what was then the Huddersfield West Circuit and I trained as a Local Preacher. Offering successfully for the Ministry, I spent four happy years at The Queen's College, Birmingham from 1974 to 1978.

In the few months before training for the ministry began I met my wife to be, Jean, the sister of a colleague at the library. We were married in August 1978, just one week before taking up residence in our first manse at Rochdale. It was there that our daughter, Helen, was born.

After serving for five years in the Rochdale circuit, we moved to the Redcar Saltburn and Guisborough Circuit where we stayed for eleven happy and fulfilling years. It was during this time at Guisborough that our son, Jonathan, was born. In 1994 the family moved to Baildon near Bradford and, after three years, I took on the task of Superintendent Minister for the first time. After twelve years at Baildon, and leaving our now adult children behind, we moved to Wolverhampton. Three years later we were back up north to what was to be my final appointment in the Bolton Circuit.

We were blessed when a Methodist Ministers’ Housing Society house became available in Brighouse, as there were no others vacant in this area. This meant that we could be near to our daughter and help look after two of our grandchildren, two days a week.

Most of my ministry has been spent in enabling and equipping the church to serve God in today’s world. The Church Growth Movement, Alpha and Cell Church have all figured strongly in my ministry. As technology advanced I learned how to utilise it in worship and church life and introduce it to others.

Over the 33 year that I have been a Circuit minister the Church has changed tremendously. There have been many difficult and sometimes sad times but overall I don’t regret that step, that I took back in the 1970’s, to become a minister in Christ’s Church. For me it seemed a natural fulfilment of that ‘sense’ I had as a child – God’s Spirit at work, unrecognised but powerful.