Dear Friends,

When I thought that April 2020 would be a good time to retire, having shared Lent, Holy Week, Easter, the APCM, and a significant birthday, no one could have foreseen just how odd this month was going to be so, as we are unable to meet, I’m writing my goodbye to you instead.

Like everyone else, Mike and I have followed the lockdown advice which has meant not being able to meet up, either in church, nor in visits nor at the tea and cake gathering planned for the 26th. We are sad not to be able to see you in person.

Our thanks for all your kind words and good wishes as we look towards starting a new life in Lincolnshire.  Here is a photo of your gift to me of a panel of abstract poppies in stained glass, which will be a lovely reminder of the All Saints’ congregation.

In case the photo you see is black and white, the panel is made up of red, black and varying shades of gold glass, soldered together in a pale gold frame. Beautiful when the light shines through it! Many of you know of my fondness of unusual coloured glass. Once we are settled, I hope to find a class to develop some artistic skill and learn how to make this tiffany style stained glass.

It has been a joy to be Vicar of Banstead. You have been so generous in your support and care, willing for us to work together to further the Good News of the kingdom. You have offered and developed your many gifts for the benefit of all. Some have taken on specific roles within the church which carry great responsibility and often a heavy workload. Many continue to serve quietly in a myriad of ways for everyone’s benefit. Without your contributions I would not have been able to do my work here. I cannot begin to name you all as I don’t want to miss anyone out. You may not realise it, but many clergy are not as fortunate in their congregations as I have been. Thank you.

We don’t know when we will be able to move out of the Vicarage but the legal process for my retirement was in place before the social distancing and only essential travel came about. My final day as the Incumbent of All Saints’ parish will be the 30th April.

After that Susan and Geoff, your Churchwardens, will have the legal care of the parish until a new Incumbent is appointed, and Ian will continue leading worship, either online and in person when the restrictions lift. I am sure you will support and encourage them and each other in the months to come.

It has been a privilege and a blessing to be able to live and work in Banstead for the last nine years. Mike and I as well Annie, Luke (and Bella) were made so welcome from our first day here, in church and the community, we couldn’t have wished for more.

When we first told the parish in Yorkshire where we moving to, there was sometimes a gentle shake of the head and occasionally the comment that ‘you do know that Southerners aren’t as friendly as us Northerners’. I’m very glad to say that you have proved them wrong! We take with us many, many happy memories of our years here, and we will miss you.

I pray that as you continue to care for each other, your faith may be deepened by God’s blessings.

Yours in Christ’s love, Maria and Mike

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