It was an emotional morning at Leyland Parish church when the vicar Reverend Canon David Gibb and his wife Claire stepped down after 17 years.
St Andrews was packed as all four congregations came together in a joint farewell service marking the end of a significant era in the life of the centuries old church. David and Claire Gibb, along with daughters Rebekah, Hannah and Esther arrived in Leyland in July 2001 from Oxford.
He explained: “I was only 32 years old then, it was my first parish and all seemed quite daunting and challenging – especially as I am a ‘Southern softie’ and didn’t speak the way the locals spoke. From day one, though, we knew it was right for us, everyone made us welcome. There is a wonderful team here, we get tremendous support, I am so grateful for everyone who has helped us along the way.”
Associate vicars Matt Cook and Duncan Bell led the joint service, reflecting upon and paying tribute to the Gibbs and their 17 year long ministry. Gifts were presented during the Thanksgiving Service and St Andrews Children’s Worker Katy Turner paid particular tribute to Claire Gibb’s unstinting efforts in teaching, organising and serving the children and young people of the parish.
In his last sermon as vicar of Leyland, Mr Gibb fittingly turned to the Revelation, the last book of the Bible.
As ever, he directed his listeners to the cross of Jesus, adding: “It’s been a real privilege to serve here, we have had some wonderful times, there has been sadness also, but much joy.
“The church has grown and we have seen many changes. We will take away with us countless wonderful memories of our times here, I will particularly remember the successful Mission Weeks we have held. I have seen many people turn to Christ in our time, Leyland and its people will forever be in our hearts.”
Reverend Gibb admitted that his health had suffered in recent times and though he was stepping aside with a heavy heart, he knew the time was right to move on.
Church wardens Karen Swift and Paul Moran are now tasked as Church of England ‘sequestrators’ as they begin the process of appointing a new vicar.