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Church News Volume 8, Issue 2 (April 2007)

Dear friends,

It was announced at the Benefice service at Cowlinge church on Sunday 25th February that I have been appointed by the Bishop of St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich as the new Rector of the benefice of Haverhill & Withersfield. Angela and I will leave the Vicarage at Wickhambrook, where we have lived for eight years, and move to the Rectory in Haverhill at the end of May (during the half term school holiday. The service of Institution marking the start of the new post will be on Friday 29th June at 7.30pm in St. Mary's church in Haverhill.

I certainly have enjoyed the last eight years working in Bansfield Benefice. We have come a long way together as individual parishes, as a Benefice, and as individuals walking this pilgrim road towards the Kingdom of Heaven. There have been great joys celebrated - baptisms of local youngsters, confirmation candidates making a commitment to the faith, wedding couples celebrating their love, renewals of wedding vows. We have held some wonderful social events around the Benefice over the last eight years, concerts, plays, musicals, dances, food, wine, friendships formed and cemented. Buildings have been restored, items added to beautify our churches, seasons acknowledged with churches full of worshippers to celebrate these marvellous events. We have worked hard to build up the links between churches together, in the area, for we believe that the church is strongest when it is at unity working and socialising together. We believe that we must not do separately what we can possibly do together!

Over eight years of ministry in this area I have had contact with most people in the area in one way or another. I have prayed for each and every one of you and tried my best to do all I can to minister to you in this place. It has been a privilege to baptise your children, celebrate your weddings, bury your dead, be accepted into your community as your priest and I have valued your responses of appreciation of my ministry and the friendship and support you have offered.

Of course there has been sadness too as there will be in any living, growing and caring community. People we have loved have died and their deaths have been marked with services celebrating their lives and their faith. Some have not been able to accept change and working together as a benefice, mourning times now gone when each parish could remain separate from others, unwilling to see the wider vision of Benefice, new services, change. Others have moved out of the area for practical reasons as age and family commitments call upon them.

It has been a "golden time" in the life of the Bansfield Benefice churches. A time of growth and a time of change - for the two necessarily go together. To change is to grow, to change often is to grow much. So we also must change and grow. Priesthood is a call to obedience, a life of prayer and service to the Church. It is a life of accepting Gods call and following wherever Gods call leads. If it were my choice I would prefer to stay here among you enjoying the fruits of the labours of the last eight years, a comfortable life knowing and being known. But God is calling me to change and be challenged, to minister to a new and different community of people. I have heard the call, accepted the challenge in faith (albeit with reservations!) and so we move on trusting in God's call to work in His strength.

My new Benefice has some 30,000 people and growing, many baptisms, weddings and funerals as you would expect in such a large and vibrant population. A town centre parish with a challenging town centre ministry. Along side this a lovely rural village with a small population with the church at its heart.

I shall be still seen in the area as I will be continuing as Rural dean of Clare Deanery and so over seeing the vacancy in this Benefice. I shall also be continuing with my responsibilities as a Governor in the village school at Wickhambrook until a new Governor can be appointed, and also fulfil my commitments this year to the wedding couples I have been preparing for Holy Matrimony.

Benefice services in each church will be covered as far as possible, rotas will be produced so please do make sure you look at them and plan your worship accordingly.

My final service in the Benefice will be on Sunday 27th May at 10.00am in Wickhambrook church. Can you come and join us? It would be great to see as many people as possible there who have been my parishioners and friends over the years.

Rev'd Ian M. Finn

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Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011