Farewell to former General Manager
‘Today marks the end of a very significant era – the end of a very long and fruitful working relationship.’ So said Lynn Green as Specialist Teams staff said goodbye to Richard Nicholls on Wednesday (3 May).
Richard became our Union’s General Manager in 2003, and has worked alongside three General Secretaries since then. Though the General Manager role ended as part of the Futures Process in 2013, Richard was asked to continue, as Transitional Manager, until July 2014.
His involvement didn’t stop there. He became acting team leader for the Ministries Team until the appointment of Andy Hughes, and then Support Services acting team leader, a role he filled until the appointment of Richard Wilson earlier this year. It is only now he is stepping into retirement.
Thanking him for the ‘amazing’ way he had fulfilled all these roles, Lynn said, ‘I think I speak for all of us when I say we could not have coped.’
She said it was hard to put into words the significant part Richard had played in our Union over the years.
She praised his organisational skills, and how many had appreciated his love and support, and unfailing ability to listen to people. He had shown ‘great gifts in building relationships and enabling and understanding’, as well as ‘patient faith in us, and our Union, over the years.’
She noted how appreciation for his contribution extended beyond the Specialists Teams to members of Baptist Union Council and the Baptist Steering Group, before speaking of her own working relationship with Richard.
‘We’ve worked together formally and informally for many years. You’ve always been there for and supported me in every way you could. Your encouragement and space for me to be a sounding board have been brilliant.’
She also highlighted the recent personal cost: Richard moved back to the East Midlands in 2014, and has made regular commutes back to Oxfordshire ever since. Lynn praised his wife Ann in enabling him to do this, before adding, ‘Richard, you’ve helped us in so many ways. Not in upfront ways. Tirelessly and prayerfully helping us become all God is calling us to be as a movement.
‘You can round off your time with Baptists Together knowing that you’ve been true to God’s call, and you have played your part faithfully.
‘You have done what you came to do. Others will build on your foundations.
‘We really want you to hear the Lord’s well done.’
Richard spoke of his love for Baptist life, and the way everyone has a voice.
‘There is a realisation that we are a family, a body, that is unique. We do things differently. We are what we are, our DNA is what it is, we do things together, consultatively, seeking the mind of God together in all sorts of different places.
‘There are frustrations, but despite them, we benefit from this way of doing things together, and we shouldn’t lose that. ‘
He said becoming General Manager in 2003 ‘was a real step of faith in all sorts of ways.’ He was previously HR Director for MHA Care Group (Methodist Homes for the Aged).
‘But it’s been a real privilege to work with you – you’re a great bunch of people, and that’s the blessing – the people.
‘This is a good place to work, and long may it be so.’