A fond farewell from Reverend Steve Harrison

We share below the letter from the Reverend Steve Harrison and wish him good luck with his new congregation in Bream!

Dear friends
Some of you may have heard by now that | am leaving the Stroudwater Team as | have been appointed Vicar of the Benefice of St James, Bream. Bream, for those less knowledgeable of the Forest of Dean, is about 3 miles inland from Lydney, not too far from the Welsh border.

My time here has been challenging and stretching, especially for someone moving country and settling into a big Benefice having led single parish ministries in the past. Overriding those feelings though is a sense of incredible gratitude for the opportunity | have had to minister in this place. People have been very kind in their comments, and | have been deeply touched by people thanking me for what | have been able to contribute and expressing their congratulations and recognition of the opportunities Bream offers.

| have also been very touched by the comments made by people | have been privileged to connect with through baptisms, weddings and funerals. | must have stood before a few thousand people in my five and a half years here as Rector, how amazing to be given this responsibility. Thank you for entrusting me with your tears and laughter as w e have journeyed these momentous times in your lives and the lives of your families.

| need to sit down at some point and calculate how many church services | have led in this time, and again, such a privilege to share from God?s word and celebrate communion together. You have been consistently encouraging and | feel we’ve had a lot of fun together in amongst the very serious work of church.
Talking about fun, thank you for so many Opportunities to do and be the church in interesting places. There?s a long list of great moments, but I think being invited, and invited back can you believe it, to open the Frampton Country Fair with the biker bunch sums up a lot of what rural ministry can like. Watch out for the opening this year, you may recognise the person riding the bike that Rev Liz comes in on.

This Team, the people, the beautiful Cotswolds, the ancient buildings, the canals and fields and so much more of this beautiful part of creation have been indelibly imprinted on my soul. | hope | have enriched some of your lives to some degree, because I know I am the richer for having been here and having known you.
I am so pleased that Rev Liz is taking over as Interim Team Rector, and that Rev Dave will continue t o minister as Team Vicar and that what w e have started as a Team will continue.

My last Sunday will be the 14th May, and I know that as I give the dismissal at that last service, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” it will be with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, gratitude for the past and hope for the future.

God bless everyone
Rev Steve Harrison