Today, the congregation at Bradwell Church said goodbye in word, deed and food, to Andy and Jane Jowett, who have led and pastored and built up said congregation over the last 17 years. For 6 of those, we have been villagers and congregants under Andy’s careful eye, and when we have had the chance, helped a little. We have valued their friendship and involvement, but for many present at a packed service at the church today, and the over 50 at a farewell lunch at the Bradwell Abbey Cruck Barn, their involvement and fellowship with Andy and Jane goes much farther back and much more richly and deeply than ours. These are good people, whose unwavering commitment to Jesus and to the steadfast pastoring of the church of God has built up a purposeful and willing congregation that was made to feel safe, taught thoroughly, and cared for. Andy’s ability to remember names and circumstances is legendary, and both his and Jane’s pastoral energy was considerable. Andy has, by his commitment to a huge range of causes (not least the Christian Motorcycle Association, who arrived in force to say farewell) become a part of the MK mission and is widely respected and loved. There will be people more qualified eloquent than I to write about both Andy and Jane, and the sheer honest devotion of those that shared in this afternoon’s farewell service, whilst laced with an entirely appropriate self-control, teetered on the edge of an outpouring of loss and affection.
At the beginning of the service, we shared the prayer above, and subsequent meditations were centred around the great marvels that God had done through this couple, the congregations committed to their charge and, in being sent out and commissioned for their next work, at Foxearth with A Rocha, the continual dew of Thy blessing. It felt like – and is – the end of an era, and the slow machinations of ecumenical Anglicanism now grind on to find a replacement; but that the continuing blessing of the Father will remain on Andy and Jane, and on those who continue to lead the interregnum work at Bradwell (Rob, Rod and Mike), is certain.
The beauty of the day needed a fitting conclusion, and a quiet walk through the Wolverton floodplain forest saw us to sunset. A jay, a group of lapwings, a little egret and an enormous pheasant strutting about in a recently grown willow thicket were the reward. These too are part of the continual dew of His blessing.