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United Reformed Church House bids the Revd Dr Michael Jagessar farewell

Revd Dr Michael Jagessar cutting cake

“Larger than life”, “passionate”, “gregarious”, “prophetic”, “infectiously funny” were some of the words used to describe the Revd Dr Michael Jagessar as he was bid farewell.

After 12 years of service at United Reformed Church House, Michael is leaving to take up a position with the Council for World Mission as its Mission Secretary for Europe.

More than 50 colleagues gathered at the URC’s central London office on 13 February for a celebration of Michael’s work, which included serving as URC General Assembly Moderator from 2012-14.

The programme included members of the URC Mission Team singing a personalised version of Bob Marley’s hit One Love, and a montage of pictures of Michael with colleagues across the years.

Speaking of Michael, Francis Brienen, URC Deputy General Secretary (Mission), who oversaw his department, quipped: “[He] leaves quite a legacy. Many of those here will attest to your personal charm in convincing people to take on tasks they thought they could not do.

“We always discovered we could, but we also discovered they were invariably bigger than you made them sound. My casual consenting to going to a World Council of Churches meeting about evangelism in your place resulted in two years of extra meetings and co-writing a book!

“Many here can attest to a similar expansion of what they thought was a simple and manageable task. But we forgive you and in fact thank you, because you saw something in us that perhaps we could not see ourselves.”

She went on to praise Michael’s strong desire to help local churches.

“[His] resource production has been second to none. There have been worship resources, not least for Racial Justice Sunday, Bible studies, films, books, and Better Church Hosting – a handbook for churches that host migrant communities in a variety of partnerships,” Francis continued.

Michael was credited with starting ArtTalk with the Revd Elizabeth Gray-King, URC Programme Officer (Education and Learning), and for introducing the multicultural congregation story award in 2009.

“I still remember the pride with which many received their award, having been recognised for their life and witness and for having a story that is worth telling.”

Francis also praised Michael for helping the URC make an important policy shift: from being multicultural to developing intercultural habits that “ask all to subscribe to a larger view than our own or that of our group”.

Speaking on behalf of the denomination, the Revd John Proctor, URC General Secretary, added: “Thank you for all those things you have done for us.”

With his wife Leonora present, Michael addressed the crowd: “From the bottom of my heart, it’s been a delight to be here for 12 years. It’s beautiful to be here. It’s a great place and you have given me a home during these 12 years. I am grateful. My wife and I think of the URC as our home. It’s the Church that we can see ourselves in.

“I feel sad [to be leaving] but I think it’s the right thing to do and I am delighted for all the support you have given me.”

He then ended his speech with a poem by Dereck Walcott, a Saint Lucian poet and playwright.


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