After nearly 6 years in the parish of Fleet Jennifer, Rebekah, Hannah and I will be leaving you in the summer as I have been appointed vicar in the parish of St Anne’s, Bagshot.
At the moment we don’t have any firm dates yet, but it is quite likely that we will have our last Sunday in the parish some time in July, move across to Bagshot during August and then start at St. Anne’s in early September.
Although St.Annes, Bagshot is in many ways a parish like Fleet, the appointment of the vicar is administered by the Crown (mainly for historic reasons). Unfortunately this meant that we weren’t allowed to say anything about going there until all the official paperwork (DBS and health checks) had been completed – even though we already knew since the 27th of March that we would be going.
As I am writing these lines to you I am really struggling to express how deeply grateful and appreciative I am for all the love, fellowship and friendship you have shown to the four of us (well, five actually – our dog Thula included), and I know that Jen, Rebekah and Hannah feel the same.
It seems only yesterday that our container arrived in a big removal van and we started to unpack and settle in Fleet. And yet, even though it does not feel like it was 6 years ago that we came to you, in other ways it feels like we have been part of this family for much, much longer. But perhaps that in itself shows how much of a difference a loving and caring community can make to the life of a person or family who is looking for those kinds of loving and meaningful relationships that make all the difference in one’s life. To us they made all the difference indeed. And it is especially for all those encounters of love and grace we have had here that we are and always will be hugely grateful.
I know that, over the next 2 months, there will still be many opportunities for us to talk and say our goodbyes and so I don’t want to make this note any longer now. Suffice to say that even as I am writing this the thought of leaving this parish family still feels quite unreal to me.
But “leaving you” is perhaps not the right way of looking at it. I think the way I look at it is that you have nurtured us as a family and that you’ve helped as grow and settle and that we were able to build something good together here in the parish but that the moment has now arrived for you to send us out into the world again to continue God’s work at St Anne’s in Bagshot.
Please keep all of us, our parish and our shared commitment to God’s work in the world in your prayers.
Andreas, Jennifer, Rebekah and Hannah.