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“Farewell” to Liz

It’s just nine years and a few days since Liz became Vicar in the Blyth Valley Team Ministry on14 October. We sang, “Brother, sister let me serve you” and she has served her people and her ordained colleagues faithfully since that day. She also introduced us to:

Christ, be our light!

Shine in our hearts.

Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light!

Shine in your church

gathered today.

- words we’ve sung regularly ever since.

Even when Liz was struck down with cancer, it always felt as though Liz’s presence was still among us and she showed us a great example of both Christian faithfulness and fortitude.

I know I speak for Jan, Bill and others who serve and who served in the Team Staff over the years when I say that it’s impossible to understate her priestly ministry in the Blyth Valley, except that her ministry has been carried out in a very understated, self-effacing way; not the loud bangs and flashes so beloved of some, but the quiet spirituality and guidance she has given us, grounding us and helping us to grow in the Community of Faith and as Christian individuals. Many people, in the Church and in our communities, are so grateful for what God has given us through Liz’s ministry. I have much to thank Liz for, not least her tolerance and understanding when I’ve got it wrong in one way or another.

David, too, has exercised an important ministry. He has been the grit in the shell of the oyster, helping bring forth pearls. No leader, church or community, stands on his or her dignity very long after an encounter with David - unless they’re remarkably daft. Watch out, parish priests and local councillors in Norwich! But you’ll be the better for it.

Liz has been a woman of the Eucharist, a proclaimer of the Word, a nurturer and comforter of many, and a lover of children expressed in many ways including “Open the Book” and especially, at a national level, in “Godly Play”.

And now to “retirement” It’s said, with considerable truth, that clergy do not retire: they just stop getting paid. Once a priest, always a priest. There is a tradition that clergy don’t go back to their former benefices very often. We all hope that this will be very much honoured in the BREACH as far as Liz and the Blyth Valley are concerned. After a much-deserved rest, Liz’s priestly ministry and David’s support will develop in new ways. Liz and David, go with our heartfelt love and blessing.

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