On Sunday 3rd June we say goodbye – ‘God be with you’ – to Revd Vivien and Phillip, at the 9.30am Service and with cake in the Institute afterwards. Vivien goes to take up the post of Priest-in-charge of Graffham with Woolavington in the Diocese of Chichester, and takes with her all our hopes for every blessing in this new role, for her and for her parish. In the church magazine (The Steeple) for June Vivien writes:
Our family has worshipped at All Saints Banstead since the baptism of our first child 37 years ago.
Donna Taylor welcomed us in, encouraging us to become part of parish life. Pam Robson appealed for help with Junior Church, and flung her arms about me when I wondered if I could help with the little ones. Pat Bryant asked me to take over Family Service, and later to consider Reader training, because I was outspoken, which she considered a good trait (!).
Hazel Whitehead set me the challenge of tutoring Worship for the Guildford diocesan ministry course. Fr Damian from St Paul’s Nork encouraged me into diaconal ministry. Through Maria, this has now translated into priesthood.
Through all these challenges and much associated studying, husband Phillip has supported and reassured when it all seemed too much, and celebrated every finishing post, as has all our family. And ‘Don’t forget,’ said Brenda Croasdale, when I was feeling particularly unsure of myself at the beginning, ‘You are among friends.’
So it has proved. The above names, many no longer local but not forgotten, are but a few representing so many to thank at All Saints and the Banstead Five Churches for kindness, encouragement and tolerance when learning new things did not necessarily mean doing them well – and for bringing us to this new opportunity of ministry as, like so many before us, it is now our turn to bid farewell.
The statement of our new parish of St Giles has asked for a new priest ‘to come and be our friend’. We seek to respond, praying that the friendship we offer can match the quality of friendship we have received at All Saints, from so many over the years past.
We go, remembering that we travel and rest in the companionship of the one whose friendship is unfailing, into whose hands we entrust ourselves today, whether we leave or remain.
May God continue to bless you richly in His company, in this dear place. Thank you for everything. With love, Vivien and Phillip