Rev'd John Benson's Eulogy

On October 2nd our Rector John Benson led his last services in the Benefice before retiring to Herefordshire the next day. At his valedictory lunch in Halstead Village Hall on that last Sunday a number of tributes and presentations were made to John and Pat, amongst them this speech of thanks and commendation.

A wise philosopher once said: "The world can be divided into two groups: those people who get up in the morning, throw back the curtains, and say "Good morning, Lord!", and those people who peep reluctantly from under the blankets, and say: "Good Lord! It's morning!" John Benson is definitely one of the former group: a-glass-half-full sort of a person rather than a glass half-empty - a great encourager, especially in times of trouble, bereavement, or ill health.

Throughout his ten years leading our two congregations John combined the simple gospel of God's love for us through Christ with a strong pastoral ministry.

If you want a clergyman to tend the needs of a dying person, his is the number to call. If you need someone to address a bereaved family-and-friends at a funeral, he has the sensitivity to know what to say and what not to say. At large community gatherings - Diamond Jubilees, Royal birthdays, Remembrance services, and funerals - he always comes up with a relevant message for the occasion. The fact that he has fulfilled this ministry totally unaided for the last two years is testimony to his unerring sense of duty and commitment. There are over a hundred names on his list for pastoral visiting. And all this at two churches - not just one, so double the wear and tear on his pastoral ministry.

Throughout the last ten years John has led assemblies in the two village primary schools, sometimes with the support of co-workers, often without. He has even helped out with individual pupils who have difficulties reading.

When asked to describe John's character, a Deanery colleague of John's summed it up in just two words: "Real sincerity." I'm sure those who know him personally would agree with that view. George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1990s, was John's tutor at theological college in Bristol, and he called John "winsome", because he would "win some" for Christ. And so he has. Pat and John have both been involved in the Monday Club in Halstead giving lunch to the elderly members of the community. They are shining examples of how church people should also be community people.

It's always difficult to know on occasions like this whether to be sad or happy, whether to regret our rector's departure, or to celebrate the fact that he has run this part of the race and finished this particular phase of his career, and can now look forward to a less pressured existence in retirement with his wife Pat in Herefordshire. We wish them both every happiness in their new community. They will be much missed in our villages.

Graham Bartlett
Interregnum Services Coordinator

Webpage icon Rural Dean's Letter - December 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - October 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - September 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - August 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - July 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - June 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - May 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - April 2016
Webpage icon Charity Visit to The Gambia - February 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - March 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - February 2016
Webpage icon Rector's Letter - January 2016