Goodbye and good luck to much-loved Ripon residents moving to South Sudan to teach

Cathie and John Rutter.
Cathie and John Rutter.
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After 36 fond years of living in Ripon, well known residents Cathie and John Rutter are about to relive their African dream by moving to South Sudan.

The couple first fell in love with Africa in their twenties when they lived in Nigeria for two years and taught at a secondary school through the Voluntary Service Overseas.

Now, over four decades on, John, 67, and Cathie, 66, are flying out to South Sudan in February to teach at Kajo Keji Bible College through the Church Mission Society.

Although they are excited about the adventure that lies ahead, the Rutters will also miss the city that they have grown so attached to.

John taught at St Aidan’s High School for 21 years and has also served as a minister at St John The Baptist Church, Bondgate. Both Cathie and John have worked at the Holy Trinity Church, where a special farewell service will be held on February 12.

Cathie said: “I love the sense of community in Ripon, you never go out shopping without seeing someone you know, and there is a real sense of belonging here. But this is a new adventure for us, and we feel that we have been called to go over there, it is our time.”

John will be teaching biblical studies and preaching at the Bible College, and Cathie will work for the principal of the college and may also help in the diocesan office.

John said: “It feels right going now, we have been here 36 years, we are both retired and have finished our last jobs here in Ripon. We see this as an adventure, and it is an opportunity to re-energise.

“There is just something about the people and life in Africa. There is a freshness and rawness to it - something about people’s vitality and energy, and the culture there.

“It is special to have a first-hand connection with a third world country, it is important to share positive news from Africa, not just negativity.”

When Cathie and John went to Nigeria in 1973 they taught secondary school children, but in South Sudan, they will have a new challenge of teaching adults.

Cathie said: “It is exciting to think that we will be teaching pastors in training who are leaders of the future and can make an impact.

“It is extraordinary to see the way that people in Africa can be so joyful and yet have so very little. Their positivity can be incredible. This experience is going to change us as well, it’s a two-way street. It will bring us so many new experiences.”

It is another adventure of a lifetime that the Rutters are looking forward to sharing together.

John said: “There is this lovely sense that we are doing this together.” Cathie said: “Since our last trip to Africa we have more life experience, but we will learn a lot of new things, together.”