On Wednesday night I was at a meal to honour Graeme Paris, and thank him for the 14 years he has been running the Willow Creek Association in the UK. At the end of the year Graeme is returning to his native New Zealand, where he and his wonderful wife Helen are hoping to enjoy a slightly slower pace of life (although knowing Graeme I'll believe that when I see it!).
Graeme has been a remarkable servant to the church in the UK, enabling many churches in our nation to be impacted and changed through the input of Bill Hybels, Willow Creek, the Global Leadership Summit and the many leaders who have come to the UK to speak organised by Willow. He's also been a dear friend and supporter to many pastors in the UK, myself included. He will be hugely missed.
I think it would be true to say that Kerith has been impacted by what Graeme has facilitated as much, if not more, than any other church in the UK. Through events like the GLS and speakers who have come to us such as Bill & Lynn Hybels, Dr Henry Cloud, Erwin McManus, John Burke, Andy Stanley, Pete Scazzerro, James Emery White, Mindy Caliguire, Gordon & Gail McDonald and many others our church has been shaped, challenged and helped to become all it is today.
We all owe Graeme a huge debt of gratitude for all the sacrifices he and Helen have made over the years - please join with me in praying huge blessing on them both in this next season of life.