Monday, 14 June 2021

Farewell gifts for couple at final service

MORE than 150 people attended Rev Wigram’s final service at St Mary’s Church in Hambleden on Sunday, writes James Burton.

MORE than 150 people attended Rev Wigram’s final service at St Mary’s Church in Hambleden on Sunday, writes James Burton.

At the end of the Eucharist ceremony, which he and his wife Rachel delivered, parishioners presented the couple with gifts.

They received a bottle of sparkling wine from the Pheasants’ Ridge vineyard in Pheasant’s Hill with the message: “May God’s spirit continue to bubble up within you.”

They were also given two clay lamps, a rosemary bush and two framed paintings of the Hambleden Valley’s six churches by artist Hannah Firmin.

Associate priest Jeremy Mais gave a farewell speech in front of the congregation.

He said: “I remember the occasion when he played a very striking Ugly Sister in a village pantomime of Cinderella.

“However, John, your life has never been an act — you are a man of God and a priest through and through. When he applied for his new job, the Bishop of Rutland contacted me asking for a warts-and-all reference.

“I sent the most indifferent reply I could in the hope that John would be able to stay but it made no difference.

“I now make amends with these words: you have been an outstanding parish priest with wonderful personal qualities.

“Your honesty, humility and constant enthusiasm and humour are supported by your good health and energy.

“I’m one of several septuagenarians who has struggled to keep pace with your actions so I have to say your departure comes as something of a comfort.

“You and Rachel have given unstintingly of your time and energy so we acknowledge and thank you for all you have done for us.”

The service marked the final Sunday before Epiphany so the couple gave Bible readings about the Wise Men’s visit to the baby Jesus. Rev Wigram gave a sermon about their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

He said: “Gold is a very generous gift, just as there is a lot of generosity in the Hambleden valley.

“People here are very generous and that is very precious and of great value.

“They have given the gift of administrative help, music, leading worship, flower arranging, managing finances and much more.

“I would like to thank those who agreed to take me on as rector even though I had only been a curate previously.

“We are grateful to those who helped us settle in with support and love and to our wonderful colleagues in ministry.

“We also thank those who gave their care, time and energy to the church in so many ways, whether practically, in caring for the community or in praying faithfully.”

After the service, there was a coffee reception in the village hall.

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