RIP Joan Barton

Sadly we must now say farewell to two more faithful members of our congregation, Joan Barton and Stella Gascoigne, who have died during these last weeks of August and who have both been very much part of the life and witness of St Oswald’s Church over many years.

Joan is pictured here on our Parish Trip in November 2010 to visit the Delhi Brotherhood, and also taking part in our Schools Epiphany Experience Week in January 2011. We will miss her adventurous spirit and her dedicated service to others, shown in so many ways over the past twenty years since settling down in our parish with her late husband Cyril after his retirement in 1995.

Joan’s funeral took place here at St Oswald’s at 1.30pm on Tuesday 1 September, followed by burial in the family grave at Norbury Parish Church.

At Joan’s funeral, Roy added these words to the Eulogy:

(I normally wear a black shirt but following Joan’s instructions this one is bit brighter.)

I know from 52 years in the ministry that clergy wives must be obeyed and although the one who originally has the calling to serve God is the Vicar (male or female), being married to a clergyperson you find yourself going along for the ride with them. And, for instance, enjoying the adventure of having a fifteen bedroom Vicarage (lovely in the summer but coolish in the winter), bringing up a family, and making cheese sandwiches for the occasional tramp at the door, or entertaining a passing bishop or archdeacon or missionary just dropping in from Africa or India. Or being there when the Vicar comes home after a particularly grumpy PCC meeting or sharing the joy of a service and a sermon well received and understood.

Well I know that Joan [and you her family] would recognise some of this – the highs and lows of Vicarage life; as I believe that Joan – as she faced the prospect of her own death with cheerfulness – had picked up the pieces after Cyril died. And as before, continued to make her home a second Vicarage with a welcome for all who came to it from the Mothers Union to Parish Magazine Committee, and in Church reading lessons and prayer with the unmistakeable voice of a former teacher.

We do sometimes forget what a great blessing it is that we belong to a Church which has recognised the value of having a Married Clergy – as a truly shared ministry. I remember a Bishop telling me that he thought most clergy and their spouses have in their memories the parish where they were most happy and had the most fruitful ministry. And although I believe that they have enjoyed their time in Bollington, I guess that for Cyril and Joan the parish of Norbury (Hazel Grove) would be their star parish; and it is most fitting that Joan’s mortal remains will return there to be beside Cyril’s (and their son who went before them), although we hope and pray that by now their souls may all be happily reunited in the glorious resurrection experience which is the hope we hold onto and which is why we can say for Joan and Cyril in words from the Book of Common Prayer: “may their portion this day be in peace and their dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem.”

May we all say AMEN to that.

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