After seven years of tireless ministry – conspicuous for its involvement with the life of our community – Simon retired as Vicar of the Moreton Benefice on 17th March. He and Anne will be moving to the South Hams area of Devon, to the village of Modbury – appropriately perhaps, as one of the earliest towns in Britain to have banned plastic bags, Simon having been to the forefront of Moreton’s current campaign to reduce the use of plastic).
Plastic apart, Simon has modelled much more than the common perception of one who has ‘turned his collar round’, and given himself to the concerns of individuals as well as to the wider community – and far beyond those who count themselves as Christians. Few will have been to hospital and not received a visit – or several visits – from him, while any initiative designed to improve the lives of parishioners and those beyond the bounds of the benefice have always been able to count on his support and encouragement.
The farewell service and lunch on Sunday 17th March was a mixture of both sadness and celebration — sadness at losing Simon and Anne from our community, and celebration at having had the benefit of their presence among us for the past seven years.
Various gifts were presented to them, including some local pottery, a framed photograph of Moreton taken from Mardon, and a cheque; Anne was presented with a bouquet of flowers and they also received a potted camellia plant for their new home. One gift which Simon wanted, a custom-made drone flute, remains in the making and he was presented with a couple of penny whistles to keep him going — to which Simon brought some of his characteristic brand of humour.
Let Simon himself have the last word, quoting from his final Message in the parish magazine IN TOUCH: ‘In this job you see a lot of concentrated life – tragedy, deep hurt, wonderful joy, people bearing what would be for me crushing burdens, people dying and bereft, people opened up by the birth of their child, people caring sacrificially for others, people discovering for themselves the wonder that is God.’
And, although these words were written three weeks before the calamitous events in New Zealand just two days before the farewell lunch, his Message went on, almost prophetically, to express how he and many of us would have felt about them: ‘There is nothing that can’t be turned towards glory. Even those things that suck out life and cause chaos – these will not have the last word.’
We shall miss you both, Simon and Anne, and pray that God will lead you into new paths of service among those who will be fortunate enough to be your new neighbours.
Simon and Anne write: ‘We would like to thank the people of Moreton and beyond for giving us seven very happy years here as Vicar and wife. We will be moving to Modbury in April where our address will be 2 Lanveoc Way, Modbury, Ivybridge PL21 0FW. Pop in and see us if you’re passing.’