Rector retires after 14 years in church service

Alphabet tribute from children at John Cross CE School to retiring Rev Finch.
Alphabet tribute from children at John Cross CE School to retiring Rev Finch.
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A capacity congregation filled St Mary’s Church at Goosnargh on Sunday evening for the Thanksgiving Service Songs of Praise and final service before retirement for Fellside Team Rector, the Rev Jeff Finch.

Before the service a combined team of bell ringers from the five Fellside parishes rang a Quarter Peal of Plain Bob Doubles on the church bells.

Three organists - Paul Warren, John Sutcliffe and Peter Woods - played for various parts of the service and singing of the service’s nine hymns was led by a combined choir.

A great symbolic moment was when individual candles on the altar were lit to represent the five Fellside parishes of St Mary’s. Goosnargh; St James, Whitechapel; St Eadmer’s. Bleasdale; St Lawrence, Barton and St Hilda’s, Bilsborrow.

”The Advent Bells” reading from John Betjeman struck a wonderful note and Jeff himself preached a reflective and rousing sermon before presentations were made to Jeff and his wife Val by each church for all they have done and meant to people in their time in Fellside.

In an exclusive interview for The Courier and Longridge News Jeff said: “We have been deeply moved by reflections, gifts, cards, photos and letters from the children and parishioners. The children from Barton, Bilsborrow, Bleasdale, Goosnargh and Whitechapel led a surprise service for us in St Hilda’s Church on Wednesday. This was followed by another surprise evening when parishioners from Bilsborrow held a surprise meal at Guy’s Thatched Hamlet.

“We shall never forget such a magnificent “send off” and the culmination was the wonderful ‘Songs of Praise’ for the whole Fellside and friends at St Mary the Virgin Goosnargh on Sunday evening.”

In retirement Jeff and Val Finch will move to Catterall and stress just how much the good wishes and prayers of the whole local community have helped them as they prepared to officially retire from full time ministry.