Dear Members and Friends of Christ Church,

We are so grateful to you all for your love and friendship towards us over the five years that we lived in the Vicarage and ministered in the parish of Totland Bay. You are lovely people, who live in a beautiful place, and we miss being with you there.

Thank you warmly for the farewell that you gave us as we left the Parish to live in Shanklin. It was very kind of you to give us your personal goodbyes at Harvest Festival on 7th October and then to participate in a Churches Together presentation on 14th October, which you followed by hosting Holy Communion and lunch for many friends from the Anglican churches in West Wight. It was a special pleasure to have with us at that final service Leisa Potter, who will succeed James as Minister, Allie Kerr our Area Dean and Archbishop Henry Ndukuba from Nigeria.

We write especially to say a big ‘thank you’ for your enormous generosity in the gifts presented to us on 7th October. The lovely garden bench, which matches our other garden furniture, is positioned in our new garden so that we can see it easily from our study and kitchen windows. Already a very friendly robin, who showed up as soon as we arrived here, seems particularly to enjoy sitting on the arm of the bench! We plan to use some of the money (£639) we received from you to buy a coffee table that matches the bench. The remainder will be spent in ways that will bring us other lasting memories of our happy times with you all. Already, the framed prints of Totland Bay seafront, which you also gave us and which now hang in the Rectory, remind us of many relaxing hours we enjoyed at the beach.

Although we still have some boxes to be unpacked, we are settling well into our new home and getting to know people and places around us. St Blasius Church is only a short walk away, and people there have made us very welcome. Already, we have worshipped in other local churches as well – enjoying the informal services of various denominations on Sunday evenings.

As we enter 2019, we wish you all a very Happy New Year. May you be watching and listening for the new things that God may do in your lives. Find joy in serving God and neighbour in Christ Church and in what will become the united Benefice of Freshwater, Yarmouth and Totland Bay.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:4-7)

With our love,

James and Suzanne