Dear members of St Mary’s family
We have so much to thank you for …
Where else would one have such a wonderful farewell? The final service was most moving, heart-warming and joyful. Thank you for coming and joining in. From the very beginning with the banner and the badges it was clear that great trouble, thought and imagination had gone in to it. The ceremonial part at the end was particularly poignant as we were prayed for and anointed; and then the choir sang the blessing. We loved the personalised hymn song to lighten the mood after the touching (and rather exaggerated!) speeches.
And thank you so very much for the most generous gifts. What a good choice and thanks to those who thought what to get and were involved in producing or acquiring them. The icon is staggering – so old and beautiful – we don’t have anything like that. We look forward to reading up about Edmund, king and martyr and in such a glorious volume. And the photo is very fine, aptly including three very different buildings to symbolise the inclusivity of St Mary’s.
What a wonderful picnic too. We were having such a marvellous time talking to people that we didn’t witness it in all its glory but we heard from many how impressive it was, and much appreciated the drinks and eats brought over to us. Thank you to those who did the setting up, brought delicious contributions and did the clearing up.
As we said at the service, St Mary’s has been our spiritual home for 31 years, nourishing and deepening our faith. We are grateful to clergy and laity for the preaching, teaching and inspirational worship; and to the many people who have contributed in open and hidden ways to the church. And we have really loved the warmth and diversity of the St Mary’s family – for all that you have done for us and meant to us, thank you more than we can say.
Although it hasn’t always been easy, it has been a pleasure and an honour to use any God-given gifts in service here. Whatever we’ve put in, far more has been given back to us – and we’ve had times of great fun too! Alison spoke of her particular delight in ministry at Meadbank; involvement with the Alpha course; and with Katherine Low Settlement; one-to-one discipleship conversations; the Fair; House communions; Greenbelt; and Away Giving. There are so many happy memories. Peter spoke of the support he had from St Mary’s in 1989 when he was not recommended for ordination training and similar support more recently leading to his ordination in St Mary’s in 2009. There are so many more things which come to mind, including baptismal visiting over many years and also discipleship conversations, running the Fair for several years (special memories of the bottle stall), making ecumenical friendships in the Riverside Churches Together, persuading the Men’s Group to speak personally rather than anecdotally (!) – and last but by no means least, in ministry, coming alongside people at times of need, especially in funeral preparation. There is so much more, but space and time forbid further elaboration. It has all been wonderfully rewarding. Thank you !
St Mary’s is full of people with many gifts, some realised and some not yet realised, for building up the Kingdom of God in north Battersea. We hope and pray that you will all go forward in a spirit of openness and gentleness, ready for new things, looking out for and encouraging each other in your faith.
God bless you all !
Alison & Peter