St Firmin’s Church, on behalf of the Ness Group, held a lovely and very well attended service on Sunday the 11th of October 2016 on the occasion of the retirement of Rev. Canon Janet Beadle as Vicar of the Group. Janet celebrated the Eucharist with us for the final time as our Vicar. The service was followed by a delicious tea complete with a celebration cake.
A Churchwardens Report : When Janet came to us over 17 years ago the Ness Group was very different to the Group it is today.
We had only just come together as a group, it was really three separate parishes and three different and separate sets of people and personalities.
Langtoft was on the point of closure, the papers had already been drawn up.
It must have been very daunting as well as a great challenge for her to undertake this new incumbency and it would require from her a great deal of energy and patience.
Lincolnshire was an area new to Janet, so much flatter than her native Yorkshire, which she loves and will tell you is God’s own country. With lots of work to do, and working with people she had to get to know, it was not easy but Janet rose to the challenge and in that nearly 18 years she has made an enormous contribution to the life of the three parishes.
With her strong faith, drive and her exuberant character, she has given much more than was asked of her.
Janet has brought the Ness group together, from three separate churches we became one group strongly led from the front. She has helped us to grow in faith and confidence and she has built a strong team of committed people who have a common aim, to work towards growing Gods Kingdom here in our parishes. Janet’s organisational skills, her encouragement for the training and development of Lay Ministers, of whom there are ten in our group, has put us in a very strong position to go forward, with confidence, while we await a new incumbent – we would not be where we are today without her leadership and we are very aware that Janet will be a very hard act to follow.
The Ness Group has three historical grade one listed churches and in recent years all three have had to have extensive restorations, which has involved many hours spent filling in forms and raising huge amounts of money to ensure that the work is carried out to keep our churches in the good order you see today. Much of this work has been stressful, with agreements and disagreements as to how to go forward, often with deadlines being set by our resident bats, who as a protected species, we are not allowed to disturb at certain times of the year, but with Janet’s enthusiasm and drive we now have three churches which are not just beautiful ancient and historical buildings but are bright and welcoming, comfortable and well used.
Services have come in all shapes and sizes, many of which have grown to become firm favourites, such as the Crib Service on Christmas Eve.
For this service everyone is invited to attend as characters from the nativity scene, the one I will forever remember is a lovely dad who chose to come as a cow, he had a black leather coat covered in large white spots and yellow marigold gloves, blown up and strapped to his stomach to look like cows udders, Janet’s laughter could be heard high above the rest, I am not quite sure how she got through that service!
We have celebrated in a farmyard, on the fen, with pets in the Vicarage garden and inspired by Janet’s visits to Egypt we have SIWA, a meditation hour, a wonderful quiet hour of silence away from the busy world.
Our Remembrance service in Thurlby will forever be very special to the village. With Janet’s encouragement, and the support of the Causeway Charity, a small group researched the Men from our Memorial Roll. We now know much more than just a name – we know about their lives and their families here in Thurlby, we even have photos of many of them – because of this our Remembrance service will always be very poignant as we remember those men from our village who didn’t return, and the families they left behind.
School children visit the church, I think Janet lost has count of how many dolls have been baptised in church to show Key Stage 1 children the meaning of baptism! At other times children have been dressed in the clergy robes and acted the part of the vicar, visits have been made to explain the layout of the church and what the church stands for in history, and in today’s world, and all these visits have been great fun as well as a time to learn.
Janet’s most important Ministry in our group has been with its people. Over her time with us she has made a difference to so many people’s lives.
At times of grief and stress she has listened and emphasized, comforted, supported and grieved with those who have lost loved ones. When taking the funerals she was always totally involved with making it special and very personal for the families, the comfort they received from this was enormous.
At happier times Janet entered in to any family event that she was involved in fully, with her down to earth approach and lots of laughter she would always put people, particularly bridal couples, at their ease.
So many people who would normally have little contact with the church found to their amazement that they enjoyed these special services, and they were not too shy to say so afterwards.
For many families in our Group, Janet has been part of their growing up, part of those important life events, their marriages, their children’s baptisms, and sometimes those sadder times, but Janet did not just attend these events as the minister, she was very much a part of them, giving herself completely.
She will remembered by so many in our villages for this and for her great sense of humour, and for her laughter, which always accompanied the happy times, we give thanks that Janet came to our Group to share in our joys and sorrows , successes and failures, agreements and disagreements.
Thank you Janet from all of us in the Ness Group for all you have done in your time with us. As you leave us you go with our love and gratitude and our prayers for a long and happy retirement, with lots of time to enjoy and indulge your many interests, a time to relax and enjoy life to the full.