Thursday, 24 June 2021

Couple retire as joint ministers of chapel

A COUPLE who are the joint ministers of Stoke Row Independent Chapel are to retire next year after almost six years.

A COUPLE who are the joint ministers of Stoke Row Independent Chapel are to retire next year after almost six years.

The Rev David Jackson, 75, and his wife, the Rev Sonia Jackson, 66, will lead a farewell service on February 14 before moving to Birmingham, where they also have a home.

The couple have overseen the chapel?s 200th anniversary celebrations this year, which Mrs Jackson called ?very special?.

She said: ?We?ll really miss being here. It has been a lovely six years and the friendships we have made have been very special.

?The people in the fellowship of the chapel have been so welcoming and so open to new ideas and change.

?We have tried to make the chapel part of the community and hopefully the new minister will continue that when they start in March.?

The couple were inducted in May 2010 and were formerly joint chaplains at Heathrow airport. They also have years of experience of ministry and missionary work in Sri Lanka and Brazil. Mrs Jackson used to teach in a missionary training college in Birmingham and the couple?s son-in-law is also minister in the city.

Although the couple will no longer be ministers, they still hope to help out in retirement as required. ?You can still work for the Lord in different ways when you get older,? said Mrs Jackson. The chapel in Newlands Lane now has about 80 members and runs a monthly social group and the ministers visit villagers who are sick or housebound.

The Jacksons planted a cherry tree in the village?s cherry orchard, near the Maharajah?s Well, earlier this month as the final event to mark 200 years of worship at the chapel. The event was organised by four members of the congregation, Val Jefferies, Sue Fisher, Jane Brazil and Andrew Hawkins.

Mrs Jackson said: ?Trees have been planted before by the congregation to mark significant events so we thought it would be a good idea to plant a tree to mark the 200th year. We have been celebrating it all year because it?s a big achievement. It?s an ecumenical chapel so any Christian from any denomination is welcome.?

The chapel was built in 1815 by a group of English Dissenters, a denomination that separated from the Church of England. Previously they had met at a nearby farmhouse.

Other anniversary events this year have included an outdoor marquee service in June with the Salvation Army band, a reunion service, a concert and a chapel feast.

The chapel also staged a nativity performance on Sunday when members of the congregation as well as children dressed up.

A time capsule will be stored in the chapel?s attic at the end of the year containing cuttings from the Henley Standard and Stoke Row News about the anniversary celebrations.

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