I have 2 important matters to report this month. First, very sadly, Canon John Simpson has died in hospital in his hometown, Hereford. John was 82 and had been a priest for over 50 years. He had a knowledge of the Bible and an understanding of human strengths and weaknesses which made him what he was; kind, understanding, compassionate, wise and priestly, but with a finely developed sense of humour. His sermons were always short, but to the point. He had enjoyed a few years of “retirement”, but he loved to preach. This meant his retirement was busy. He was equally at home taking services in Hereford Cathedral as in small country churches like Stowey. He loved Choral Evensong and we were very sad he was unable to attend our special Platinum Jubilee Choral Evensong in June. His suffering is now over. We give thanks for his life; for his Christian faith and witness; for his love of people and his ability to communicate; and for his friendship. We send our sincere condolences to Carol, his widow who gave him such unstinting support, and to his family. We shall miss him very much.
Secondly, our Rector, Rev’d Mark Cregan, who has been our priest for almost 9 years, has decided to take early retirement, resigning his living as Rector of our Benefice effective from 31st October 2022. Whilst he is sorry to leave us, various factors have caused him to reach this conclusion after much thought, prayer and careful reflection.
Those of us who know Mark will all wish to thank him for his ministry in Stowey and in our wider community through this period and we will want to say goodbye to him. That being the case, we are planning a special service of Choral Evensong in the Church on Sunday 2nd October at 6.30pm. I shall be discussing this and the arrangements for it with the Church Council and others, so that we can make this a fitting occasion for Mark and for ourselves, and to bring closure to his time and ministry amongst us. Whilst we can’t be certain as to what the future might hold, I believe firmly that we must remain steadfast in our faith and assured that, whatever changes we are asked to accept, Stowey Church will remain a beacon of Christian faith and mission for generations to come.

On a happier note, 3 beautiful gardens in Stowey were open for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 17th July. There is a full report elsewhere in this magazine, but suffice it to say we raised over £850 from the sale of home-made Teas at Stowey Mead and plants at Dormers. We’re so grateful to all who donated their time and skills to enabling us to hold such a wonderful and enjoyable event. Although numbers attending were considerably down on recent years, it was still a thoroughly worthwhile afternoon, giving a lot of pleasure to those who attended.

Many people help to make occasions like this a success; we thank all who contributed. Thank you! It wouldn’t be the same without you!

Jill Nicol, Churchwarden