On 9th April 2017, the church marked the retirement of the Vicar Stephen Coe and wife Elizabeth after 12½ years’ of ministry at Holy Trinity Wallington with a farewell celebration.
The church bell was rung as around 200 people sat down for a lunch after the main morning service. Against a rolling backdrop of photographs reminding us of their involvement in many activities and events over the years, there were expressions of gratitude, laughter and sadness, as we were reminded of their dedicated service to God, the people of Holy Trinity, and our local community.
David King, Vicar of neighbouring St Patrick’s, referred to Stephen’s encouragement and support when he was first appointed ’Assistant Curate’ there; and to his passion for sport, resulting in some light-hearted challenges between the two churches. Also to his being someone who was “not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes …” Romans 1:16
Holy Trinity’s Curate, Alan, spoke on behalf of the congregation in describing Stephen and Elizabeth as a couple who served wholeheartedly together, right up to their retirement. He thanked them for their example and, in wishing them well for their future, he quoted from Ecclesiastes 8:15, commending the enjoyment of life, after their many years of hard work in ministry.
The Churchwardens, spoke of Stephen’s humility and his desire first and foremost to talk to God, hear, and then act – not letting anything get in the way of God’s clear direction. Stephen’s faithfulness in teaching the Bible, and his concern that people should be nurtured and become team members, had led to a number being trained as leaders in the church. He was a dedicated Chair of Holy Trinity School Governors; and both he and Elizabeth were members of the hard-working ViBE team responsible for the reordering of our church, which was completed in 2015.
(Many) verses of song
A 15-verse song written in tribute to Stephen and Elizabeth was then performed, with the chorus:
As you leave us to go to Oxford,
Now your time with us is done,
A retirement blessed, we pray,
For years to come.
Thanks from Coes
In thanking all concerned, Stephen and Elizabeth spoke of their love for Holy Trinity, of all they had learned from God and from sharing in the lives of His people, and asked for prayer as they move on to the next phase in their lives. They were presented with a celebration cake, to share with their family. Other presentations will be made on Easter Sunday – their last day with us.
The Churchwardens prayed for them, in the assurance that God will direct them: “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Stephen and Elizabeth’s last official day at church will be on Easter Day. They will stay on in Wallington for a few weeks before moving to Oxfordshire to be nearer their to family.
Click on photo to enlarge