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Farewell to Jamie

28 September 2009 No Comment


Farewell to Jamie at CTiS Open Forum 21st September 2009

On first hearing of Jamie in the middle of 2005 we were told that he was the priest brave enough to have taken part in a TV documentary series on the ‘Life of country priest …? in about 2002 – most of us had watched several episodes of the series and I remember thinking how brave to stand up to parishioners who had ideas that the church should remain as it had always been………  We were obviously going to be part of an interesting experience if Jamie were to become part of our patch in Suffolk…… one good thing in his favour was that we heard that he had grown up in Woodbridge..…we would watch developments carefully…..

We welcomed Jamie at a similar Open Forum in December 2005 and soon met Suzy, and their crew of little angels, Danielle, Carrie, and Katie (baby Roxanne was welcomed into their family with great joy in the summer of 2007). In no time at all we became aware of wonderful things beginning to happen in Great Cornard.  A busy Rectory, a busy church, soon a Junior Choir, St Andrew’s was waking up to new ideas and new dreams which were being accomplished and headlines were hitting the local papers…. “Priest all night on church roof” …”Plastic ducks race on river at Sudbury”…. “The opening of the Bannister Room”  – a church answering a call to minister to the needs of a very varied population in Great Cornard – several schools, retirement homes, social housing, wide areas of new-build housing – with an open door and a hand of friendship outstretched to all.

Jamie has been like the conductor of an orchestra – with his gift of insight and vision he has been able to inspire and encourage everyone around him to be part of turning that vision into reality.  No bridge too far, no obstacle too high we have seen him grasp that dream fearlessly …. The word ‘Action Man’ comes to mind, and a wisp from an old song from my childhood – ‘for I’m not afraid of anything….’ Another attribute infectious enthusiasm – a lesson for all of us.

…..And he has not worked just in his Parish, he has taken a vital part in Churches Together by setting up the Marriage Focus Group – challenging the churches to find ways to stem the dwindling numbers of church weddings.  With Jamie’s enthusiastic backing we’ve astonished crowds at local commercial wedding fairs by ensuring a Church presence; we’ve helped to produce a widely circulated booklet detailing where it is possible to have a church wedding in our area;  initiated courses for those contemplating marriage whether first timers or for those previously divorced or co-habiting of any age; and a number of people from the churches have undertaken training courses in order to be counsellors for those courses.  Marriage Focus is an ongoing project for which we thank Jamie.

But he has also brought his wonderful touch to Market Hill at Christmas time with his junior choir and the Salvation Army band, in rain and shine, and again on Good Fridays – the walk of witness from St Andrew’s, and outside St Peter’s,  words for inquisitive onlookers in the middle of their shopping.  As a fellow traveller along the road he has walked with those nursing loved ones at home, bringing comfort to the dying; times of fellowship and a listening ear for those who are hurting, whether brothers in ministry, or lay people;  bringing most of all, blessing wherever he goes.

Jamie, the chameleon, the pied piper, the man for all seasons, we shall miss you and your family. We have grieved with you as you have had to face the uncertainty of Carrie’s illness but, with the many prayers that have surrounded you, we feel that the victory will surely be yours, and we pray God’s blessing on you all as you set forth on this new journey to New Zealand with all its fresh challenges……… to give God the Glory!

And now in the words of the Irish Blessing:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Lovingly, thank you Jamie!!

Jane Kohler


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