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Notes from a Churchwarden & the Benefice Administrator - March 2019

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Goodbye to Emma

Our vicar, Emma Pennington, moved to Canterbury on the 16th of February: we, in Cuddesdon and Denton, had an opportunity to say farewell and to present a gift to her at a lunch in the Village Hall organised by the PCC on Sunday 3rd February. It was a wonderfully warm community occasion and many people had worked hard to create it and prepare the excellent hot lunch that we enjoyed. Many thanks are due to Jean Mackintosh, Waveney Luke, Marion West, Lynda Gray and Susan Palmer and all the other people who cooked and worked and organised to create our super lunch. It fell on me to speak on behalf of us all and to try to thank Emma for all she has done and been to us in this village over the past ten years and to present our gifts. It became a thankyou letter – in fact, a sequence of thank you letters – attempts to bring some of our collective gratitude and appreciation together.

Dear Emma,
We the parishioners of Cuddesdon and Denton (all of us) thank you from our hearts for being our vicar for the last ten years. Thank you, dear Emma, for visiting us and ministering to our needs, for making arrangements for weddings and baptisms and funerals. Thank you for the care and sympathy and understanding, for the sensitivity that you have shown on these occasions so that we knew that you were relating to us individually and sharing in our personal and family experience and not just carrying out a duty. Thank you for your care and compassion when we have been ill or in need of particular support or counselling. Thank you for listening to us and for sharing your wisdom and insights and thank you for being such an example to us for you suffered pain and distress during your time here and you kept going courageously. Thank you too Emma for the many occasions that you have helped with the more public events in our village, for your presence at coffee mornings, your help at the fete, your memorable contribution to Cuddesdon Conversations on Dame Julian of Norwich and so much else. Thank you for sharing our concerns as a community.

Dear Emma,
We, your congregation at All Saints, thank you for your prayers and for your spiritual guidance and support. We have so much appreciated your many accomplished, helpful and humane sermons and the gifts of contemplation and silence that you have shared with us…We thank you for your warm engagement with children when they have been present in the church, for your inviting them to come close around the altar when you are consecrating the sacrament, for your interest and ability to draw them into sharing their art works with the congregation. We thank you for initiating ‘Messy Church’ and we also thank you for arranging, for the other end of the age range, a series of lectures on the Church Fathers, relating to the reredos behind the high altar and followed by compline in our beautifully restored chancel.

Dear Emma,
We, the members of the PCC, thank you so much for your leadership, for the many ways that you have directed our meetings towards positive outcomes, for your clear insight and for your help in keeping our thoughts and feelings appropriate to our roles. Thank you for the harmony of our deliberations and thank you for supporting us in complex and extensive restoration projects, without insisting on your views but allowing us to carry through what we felt was needed to be done.

Dear Emma,
 … the thankyous continue… Thank you for bringing our benefice together so that we have been able to enjoy more closely our relationship with the people of St Giles’s, Horspath and St Mary’s Garsington. At the same time, thank you for being sensitive to our particular identity in Cuddesdon and to our historic relationship with the college and to its regular use of our church.

And, if I can turn to your lovely family, thank you dear Jonathan, Katie and Thomas for all the support you have given Emma and for coming to our church and to events in our village on so many occasions. Thank you Jonathan for taking services when you were able to do so. Katie and Thomas you came here as little children and it has been so good to see you grow up into such fine young people.

Life is full of changes and Emma is now called to a wonderful new job that seems to have been designed with her in mind. She takes with her our gratitude for ten years’ ministry among us, and our love, and our prayers for all the goodness that she will do and experience in her new role as Canon Missioner at Canterbury Cathedral. And so before we part, I want to offer a few brief quotations: they are from T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.
Firstly, it is
‘Not fare well,
But fare forward ….’ from ‘The Dry Salvages’,
and then from the end of the final quartet, ‘Little Gidding’, a couple of lines:
‘With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from Exploration…’
Finally, Eliot quotes again from a close friend of Emma’s: Dame Julian of Norwich:
And all shall be well
And all manner of thing shall be well.

Robert Wilson
Church Warden, All Saints’ Cuddesdon