The founders of Wayfarers were Keith Ward and our then curate, the Revd Peter Marshall who is with us this morning as our preacher at 11.15. Over the years many folk have followed them as part of the leadership team – Alan Tuddenham and Simon Brickell, Dr Rob Morris, John and Andy Irvine (John was later to be the Dean of Coventry Cathedral). Later on, John and Sally Phillips and Roy and Annie Hance were among others to join the team, followed in the next generation by Tim Voltzenlogel and Cavan Wood. More recently, Stuart Silk and Jez Lowries have joined the staff team as leaders of Encrypt.
Of the members, over a thousand of them over the years, many have gone on to a mature and active faith in Christ – all over the country and some to the ends of the earth, quite literally. We have counted up around 20 who have gone on to be ordained (plus eight in training at the moment, or shortly to begin), as well as many more who are in lay leadership in their churches or who have been abroad as missionaries.
At the heart of the work have been the times when we have gone away, to CYFA Ventures and on our own residential weekends. For more than 30 years we took large groups from several local schools twice a year to Ashburnham for evangelistic weekends with speakers such as J John, George Hoffman (the founder of TEARfund) and Gavin Reid. Many Wayfarers would say that these times away were when they came to know Jesus for themselves. And that is still a key part of the work with the current generation.
Finally, if you can keep a secret, I can tell you that this week Keith reaches a very significant birthday. He was just 30 when he began in Wayfarers; so do the Maths yourself to work out what it is (after all he taught many of you!).