Once again we have reached that time in the Methodist year when we must say
‘Farewell’ to some of our Ministers and Deacons, so our church was packed for the Circuit Farewell Service. The Superintendent Minister, the Revd David Ellis, excelled himself as he preached at length on ‘Journeyings’, highlighting that journeys can begin at any age – Abram’s began at seventy-five – and can go in many different and unexpected directions as the Holy Spirit directs. In particular, David emphasised that the Holy Spirit rarely lets us stand still, moving us on just when we think we have reached our destination.
The Caversham Heights Choir sang the setting of the 23rd Psalm by Howard Goodall (aka the theme tune to The Vicar of Dibley), which had been specially requested.
During the service, certificates and badges were presented to 12 people who had completed studying the 34-week Disciple 4 course together, having previously studied the three other 34-week Disciple courses. This group included 3 from the Slough Circuit, 3 from the two Caversham churches, 5 from different churches in the Reading and Silchester Circuit and the Revd Valerie Fisher.
There was much applause for the next presentation, which was a certificate in recognition of his 50 years as a Local Preacher, to Professor Sir John Marsh, as we all showed our appreciation of his faithful preaching.
Then our Superintendent invited us to rejoice in the news that Chris Evans, who had been our Youth and Evangelism Lay Worker in Caversham for three years and has since been living and working in the Burghfield area of the Circuit, will become a Probationer Minister in our Circuit in September 2010; also that Andrew Wigley and his wife Judy had both been accepted as candidates for the Ministry – Andrew for the Methodist Presbytery and Judy for the Anglican Ministry. Again, there was loud applause.
The service concluded with the Farewells to the ministers who are moving on, with speeches by the Circuit Stewards and the Ministers concerned. So we said farewell to Deacon Maggie Blake who has steered our new Emmanuel Church through difficult times and is now moving to the Wokingham Circuit; and to the Revd Dermot Thornberry who, with his wife Charlene, will move from Caversham (where he has had charge of both Churches and has served as Chair of Churches Together in Caversham, as well as caring for the Silchester Church in the South of the Circuit) to Paignton in Devon. A special Thank you, instead of Farewell, was extended to the Revd Dr. John Ogden, who at the age of 70 is ‘sitting down’, though he will not be leaving the Circuit and is hoping to continue to serve the Circuit while living life at a more leisurely pace.
The rousing hymn ‘This, this is the God we adore’ concluded this very inspiring service and the Farewells continued with refreshments in the Hall for the folk from this very large Circuit.
All photos by Owen Jewiss