Richard Underwood will retire as Pastoral Ministries Director this week after 13 years of faithful service to the Fellowship as Phil Topham explains.
It was a joy to take time out at our Leaders’ Conference in Torquay last month to thank Richard and Pippa Underwood for their ministry with FIEC.
Richard has served the Fellowship since 2004, first as General Secretary and latterly as Pastoral Ministries Director. In his most recent role he has overseen the Pastors’ Network – our accreditation body for ministers.
More than 550 men are now part of the Pastors’ Network which, under God, Richard has grown and developed since becoming an FIEC Director in 2010.
At our Conference in November, National Director John Stevens invited Richard and Pippa on stage to interview them about their ministry before they were presented with a gift from the Fellowship.
“FIEC would not be what it is today without Richard’s vision. He was God’s man for FIEC at just the right moment.
Richard’s love for pastors has been astonishing and it has been quite an achievement to grow the Pastors’ Network and turn it into a genuine band of brothers, men in ministry who love one another and support one another. I think his love for pastors has rescued many men’s ministries.
Richard’s love and care flows out his deep love for the Lord Jesus and the desire to see him honoured and served. And we are so grateful to Pippa because we know that she has been unstintingly supporting Richard and has borne much of the hidden cost of his ministry.”
During the FIEC Leaders’ Conference, Richard led the prayer and praise meetings, reminding delegates through the Lord’s Prayer of the privilege of having God as our Father and the joy of being his children. Thanking the FIEC family for their partnership in the gospel, Richard said:
“It has been a privilege to serve this wonderful family of churches and I want to thank you for the way you have loved and supported us as we’ve sought to love and support you. FIEC has never just had my diary, it has always had my heart and it always will. As we look at the gospel need in our country we see a nation that needs the FIEC as much now as ever it did.
Matthew 9:37 & 38 says: ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Those verses give us something to rejoice in, something to lament over and something to pray for. If you want to know something to do, read Matthew chapter 10. And then do it.”
As well as the gift for Richard, he was also presented with a book full of appreciations, photographs and memories from his time serving churches in the FIEC family. The book was stuffed full of postcards which had been filled in by people across the Fellowship remembering the times Richard had impacted their ministry.
We won’t get to read all those postcards, but here’s a flavour of some of those appreciations in this short film.
We’ve asked Richard to do one more thing for our website before he retires – do look out for his Christmas reflection later this week.
I wouldn’t describe Richard as shy or retiring. And I dearly hope he won’t be shy about staying in touch now he’s retiring! May God bless you and Pippa as you continue to serve the Lord in your retirement.