Simon’s Final Sunday -“Servants and Stewards”

Simon’s Final Sunday -“Servants and Stewards”
This was the theme chosen by Simon for his last sermon in the Cathedral on 18th September. There were large congregations at both morning services, to hear our Vicar’s challenge to us, to regard ourselves as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”. - 1 Corinthians 4 v1 Simon referred to his seven years service on the staff of the Cathedral and to the new ventures that had been undertaken to share the good news in the community in Lisburn. He recalled one day last Easter as he walked up Bow Street there were a squad of folks in “LIsburn Cathedral Big Church Serve” high vis jackets praying with people in the street. A lady came walking up Bow Street and when he asked her, “Is there anything you would like prayer for and would you like me to pray for you?” She immediately relied “Oh I would love someone to pray for me!” The calling to be servants and stewards of the gospel message, to offer prayer, to share the love of Christ with those who don’t yet know Him, is a calling for everyone in the church. He closed by saying how he looked forward to hearing how the people of Lisburn Cathedral continue to progress in being faithful servants and stewards of the Gospel.
The Cathedral Hall was packed with around 250 people for a farewell Sunday Lunch. Cathedral Church Warden, Noni Scott began the tributes to Simon with a recollection of the “young boy” who became our Curate in 2009. It wasn’t long, she said, before people in the church discovered the fine qualities that lay below his youthful appearance, qualities that would teach, equip and transform many lives in the church and in the community in his seven years with us.
Next came Pete Meenagh, who spoke of the ways that Simon had taught and inspired our young people and young adults to grow as disciples of Jesus. Simon was then asked to take the “Mastermind” chair to answer 30 questions on the “Life and times of the Curate and Vicar of Lisburn Cathedral from 2009-2016.” When asked the question, “How many people packed into the Cathedral for your wedding in July 2012? He answered with his usual humour when he said “I had eyes for only one! Zara, who became my wife that Day!” Zara has belonged to Cathedral for longer than Simon, she joined our Youth Ministry Team eleven years ago and it has always been her passion to see young people live fulfilled lives where they value themselves, have healthy relationships and know that they are precious before God. The Rector’s wife, Paula then gave Zara a gift of some jewellery to thank her for all she had done over the tears. Molly McWilliams also presented a gift of a “Peek-a-boo Bear” to 4 month old baby Eliza Genoe.
“Tuesday mornings would never be the same from now onwards” said the Rector, Sam Wright, “because for the past seven years that was the time he and Simon had met to plan, pray, deal with challenges and to drink coffee. He recalled how very early on Simon stated his aim in ministry was: “To see the whole church go deeper with God and reach out further with the gospel.” This set the tone for his service in Lisburn. In the major events he was someone who would rise to the challenge of inventively and relevantly sharing the Gospel. Equally in the everyday tasks of ministry Simon would come alongside people giving them time, prayer and the hope that is found in Jesus.
In recent days Sam said his daily bible readings from Acts 15 had been challenging him, because one team of two people Paul and Barnabus formed two separate teams with Silas and John Mark. These two gospel teams took different paths yet they were commended by their brothers in Christ to the grace of the Lord and they went strengthening the churches.
Sam concluded by saying, “It will be a great change for us as Simon leaves to form his gospel team in Magheralin Parish, but he leaves with our highest commendation for all he has been to us and we commend him to the grace of the Lord.”
Mr Tom Stevenson then presented Simon with a cheque on behalf of the Cathedral.
Sam presented Simon with a Liverpool Football Club Supporters glove to cheer on the team.
In conclusion Simon thanked Sam for his leadership and encouragement and everyone for their generosity. He said Lisburn Cathedral would always have a special place in his heart as the place he started in ministry, where he married Zara and where Eliza spent the first months of her life.