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Farewell Letter from Rev'd Mark Binney

Farewell Letter from the Rev’d Mark Binney, on his Retirement
So here I am, retiring after 38 years of Stipendiary Ministry. Sixteen of those years have been spent here, the longest I have been anywhere. It has been a journey of living and ministering in different places. The Church Times in its appointments section always lists the different Parishes you have served in. It is rather like a railway line with all the stops along the journey. Every clergyperson has a different line. So, what about the Binney line?
I started at the age of 28 with a first curacy at Hornchurch in the East End of London. Having been Ordained as a Deacon in Chelmsford Cathedral, I was the most junior of 5 Curates. As such I was tasked with youth work which I very much enjoyed. I was Priested after a year at Waltham Abbey. It was easy to blame the Vicar for anything that people did not like, such as the traffic jam created by 6 Weddings which all seemed to merge into one another when the first bride was very late! There was an opportunity to be creative as a Curate as well as learning from your mistakes such as turning up at the wrong crematorium for a funeral. It was just as well I was early! A notable event was the great storm of 1987 when my roof blew off.
After 3 years it was time to move to a second Curacy at Hutton in Essex. This was only for 2 years but it was supposed to give you another training opportunity before becoming Vicar. It was then that I moved to Pheasey in Great Barr Birmingham to be a Vicar. This was a challenging Estate Mission Church which people said looked like a bunker. It took five years supported by 2 Curates to create a Church Community Centre which also became a shared Church with the Methodist Church.
After that I moved to a Team Ministry at Wombourne near Wolverhampton where I was responsible for two Village Parishes, Trysull and Bobbington. This was a more traditional Parish Ministry with a well-attended Evensong Service every week. Sometimes there were services in some of the pubs, there being 9 at that time. What with a Vineyard, airport and a Manor House, it could not have been more different from life in Birmingham. I greatly enjoyed being there, but the Bishop had other ideas. After 3 years he wanted me to take on a Parish at Wilnecote in Tamworth. It turned out that nobody else wanted to go there! So I did move there as Vicar of a large urban Parish with many estates. It was described as being near to nice places! Birmingham Airport was not far away which came in quite handy. I had two Curates to help with the ministry which included two mission Churches.
Eight years later in 2008 it was time to move again. This time to Hampton, Sedgeberrow and Hinton in the ASUM Group as Priest in Charge living in the lovely Hampton Vicarage (the only traditional Vicarage I have ever had). What a joy to look across the Vicarage lawn and hear the Church bell chime or the bells being rung on a Sunday. Looking the other way is the River Avon and the open countryside. Bengeworth was added in 2012, which increased the number of Services. I became Rector of all the Churches in 2018. A few years ago Bengeworth became a Resource Church with its own Curate in Charge. This made things less hectic ministry-wise although the area continues to grow with new housing estates. It has been a privilege to have been involved with so many people through the Churches, Schools, John Martin Charity and Civic and ecumenical activities. Although it has been 16 years, Evesham is the kind of place where the pace of life is much slower than city life. Sadly, many people are no longer with us, but the children have grown up into adults and have Married and started bringing their children for Baptism. And so life goes on in Vale of Evesham I was 49 when I arrived and now, I am a Pensioner!
Back in 2008 Charlie and I married in Hampton Church. Barry Collins who took the Service said it was a great way of connecting with the people. Indeed it was, many happy memories of times shared together at the Churches, Vicarage, Village/Town Hall, over the years. Together we went through COVID and the sad times. Now it is time to say farewell, the final stop. Life and ministry will continue in retirement in Devon. But this is the end of my Stipendiary Ministry. The Binney line stops here. It’s been quite a journey, and I am indebted to my wife and family for sharing parts of that strange journey. When Jesus said, “Come follow me”, who could have known the path that journey would take.
Thank you all. God bless.
Mark Binney