Goodbye to Andrew – speech at APCM by Anna Burness

THANK YOU ANDREW 23 April 2014

When we described ourselves in our last interregnum as

…. a welcoming, open, vibrant community of all-age followers of Jesus Christ. –   we felt quite bold as this still was somewhat of an aspiration rather than a fact, while we were in the early stages of becoming a united parish. 

Now, four years later we stand, united and strong with God’s help, thanks to Andrew’s leadership and his integrity, good humor and gentle diplomatic skills. For the many of us who have lived in the valley for a long time we can see the transformation clearly. 

Andrew would now say: it’s not about me: it’s about God. And that is of course the lasting and enduring legacy he leaves behind: a deepening of our faith and trust in Gods never ending love. 

Because we have been blessed by Andrew’s ministry, a ministry of a truly good shepherd with an abundance of gifts: intellectual, musical, social and most importantly,  with the gift of preaching, of reading scripture with us, in teaching us how to pray.  

His deep faith, humility and compassion have been an example to us all and shown us how to work together across the four villages in friendship and respect for each other. Andrew has reached out to us all, to all ages and backgrounds and steered us on our journey of discovery of faith and love. 

Andrew’s unique ability to build relationships and unite a community is maybe what all this talk of mission is about: a very practical and at the same time deeply spiritual approach, be it at the men’s pub breakfast, visiting a bereaved person who is not a churchgoer, getting laughs on a panto stage, being with us at fetes, at plant sales, duck races, concerts, parties and at the school gate at Itchen Abbas. 

We have been told of the profoundly compassionate way in which Andrew has addressed the sick, the dying, the lonely at home; in nursing homes and in hospital.

 We have all witnessed the tenderness towards the many children kneeling at the altar rail, the nurturing of confirmation candidates, the celebration and joy of weddings and baptisms and the thoughtful inclusion of those unfamiliar with church life at those events. 

Andrew’s empathy, and pastoral instinct shape the way he conducts funerals and memorials, knowing exactly when informality is called for and when silence and solemnity are crucial. 

Andrew, so you have been our pastor and friend and nurtured and led us, your flock so that we now are truly … a welcoming, open, vibrant community of all age followers of Jesus Christ. 

I would like to present, on behalf of the parish of the Itchen Valley, a painting by Dave Russell of our four beautiful churches and a collection – in the prosaic form of a cheque.

 This comes with our grateful thanks, our love and our prayers: that blessings may be upon you and Fiona, Emily and Daniel and be with you as you continue your pilgrimage.

 We will miss you.

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