Great turnout for retiring Ottery vicar’s farewell service
PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:25 27 July 2020
Around 80 people attended a socially distanced farewell service for the vicar of Ottery St Mary Parish Church, the Revd Stephen Weston, on Sunday.
The Revd Weston is retiring to Bigbury-on Sea in the South Hams with his wife Cathy, after seven and a half years at the church.
The farewell service was conducted outside in the churchyard, with people standing or sitting two metres apart.
Afterwards, the congregation heard a new version of Psalm 23, written and read out by the chair of the Friends of the Church, Grenville Gilbert.
It included the lines: ‘He has enjoyed his favourite whisky beside still waters/He has restored our sense of humour with the most appalling jokes/He has trod the odd right path on the Quantock Hills for Coleridge’s sake/As well as some of the darkest places known in the town, like local pubs, where he has feared no evil’.
The Revd Weston was also presented with gifts including a picture of Ottery Church, a decanter engraved with a line drawing of the church, drawn by a previous vicar, and a new wheelbarrow filled with bottles of red wine.
He told the Herald he had enjoyed his time in Ottery, describing it as ‘a lovely experience’ for him and his family.
He said: “I can honestly say I’ve never worked with such a great choir, and such a brilliant church administrator.”
During his time at Ottery Church he was present at the first ordination to the priesthood in the Church of England conducted by a woman bishop, of two Church members Leisa Potter and Sheila Walker.
There was also an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride in 2018 where a Pixie Day-themed wedding took place at Ottery church.
But the Revd Weston said his proudest achievement of the seven-and-a-half years had been working with the other Ottery churches to enable a family of Syrian refugees to come and live in the town.
The process took five years and involved ‘a lot of paperwork’.
The family finally arrived in September 2017 and have settled well in the town, even naming their latest child Mary as a sign of their gratitude.
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