It was a sad day for the Diocese on Friday 18 January when we said farewell to Liz Holdsworth, our Director of Mission and Development, who has retired from her role. Liz’s 17 years at Bouverie Court has covered a huge amount of experience, adventures and encounters, so we thought we’d ask her a few questions about her time working here.
We’re sad to see you go, Liz. Why have you decided to retire now? Where are you moving to?
My husband Ian and I have been in post quite a long time. We came to Northampton in 1999, and have had a wonderful 20 years here, but it’s time to move on to a new adventure, and make way for others. We are moving to Bridlington, a small seaside town on the East Yorkshire coast. I grew up in Hull, so I’m finally going home.
How long have you been at the Diocese of Peterborough? How have things changed since you have been at work here?
I first trained as a Parish Evangelist here in 2000, and started working for the diocese in 2002, when Chris Peck, then Co-ordinator of Adult Education, invited me to become Director of Common Ground, which at that time was the first year of training for licensed lay ministers. I joined the core Adult Education team in 2004, as Co-Ministry Partnership Development Officer – working with Andrew Rayment and supporting lay and ordained leaders in working together. I learned so much from all my colleagues at Bouverie during these years. When Chris moved on from the team leader’s role in 2011, I was invited by Bishop Donald to step into that role, and then later became Director of Training, and more recently Director of Mission and Development.
We’ve knocked down a few walls at Bouverie over the years, literally, to reshape the office in order to grow and meet ongoing needs. I think that’s true in terms of the diocese too. I have felt a growing sense of family within the diocese as a whole over all these years, whether people are based at Bouverie or in the parishes – of all pulling in the same direction and supporting one another.
As my role has evolved, I’ve had great opportunities to do many different things. Much of it has involved training of one sort or another, centrally and locally – from one-to-one meetings to sessions with whole congregations. In the early years, I worked a lot in parishes with Tim Sledge, then Mission Enabler, on Seven Marks of a Healthy Church (by Robert Warren), and also with Pam Jones, the Children’s Officer. I was very fortunate that the Diocese enabled me to do Bridge Builders training, which has informed much of what I’ve done in the areas of conflict transformation and leadership development.
What have been your highlights of your time at the diocese?
The main highlight for me has been working with so many amazing people, both at Bouverie and in the parishes. God has blessed me richly in all those relationships, for which I am hugely thankful. Through the love and support, encouragement and inspiration of others, I have been able to grow and flourish. A great joy for me has been the way the Bishop’s Bible Days have grown over the years, and become a real meeting place for so many of us in the diocese. I’ve also particularly enjoyed being with people one-to-one – it has been a great privilege for me to share in people’s journeys, often at moments of significant challenge, and, I hope, have the opportunity to encourage and support them.
Have there been any difficult moments to overcome?
It was a difficult time for the diocese when we lost Bishop Ian, sadly just before his retirement. For many years he had been a great supporter of diocesan education and lay training. It has been great to have Bishop Donald’s leadership since then, taking the diocese forward and focusing us all around growth and unity.
What are your hopes for the future for both yourself and for the Diocese of Peterborough?
My hope for the diocese is that it would continue to grow and develop, and that all our church communities would flourish as beacons of hope and signposts to Jesus. We are living in divided and uncertain times, and the presence of Christians – confident in God and in what he can do, and ready to share that faith – will be crucial. For myself, I’m leaving with a sense of sadness at moving away from so many good friends, but looking forward to what lies ahead.