Thornton Heath Evangelical Church, London, was packed on Sunday 1 July, as members and friends gave a fond farewell to Robert and Helen Jeffery.
Mr Jeffery, who recently graduated from the London Theological Seminary, has worked at the church seven years in various roles, latterly as ministerial assistant.
The family has now been called to Walthamstow in north east London, where Mr Jeffery will take up the pastorate this September.
Mr Jeffery attended Thornton Heath from the mid 1990s after he graduated from university. Mrs Jeffery has been coming to the church since she was two years old, growing up through young people’s groups and being supported during a two-year short-term mission in the Ivory Coast in the 1990s.
Both shared the platform during the service, where they spoke movingly of how God led them to work together to set up a new youth group, Impact; and then towards marriage and parenthood, before they received a call to full-time pastoral ministry.
They thanked the church for the love, support and friendship shown to them as individuals and a family. Mr Jeffery gave praise to God for his faithfulness in his plans for their lives.
He also told the congregation, ‘Thank you for being our friends, for loving us even when we’ve made mistakes, for encouraging us, supporting us and praying for us’.
Elder Peter Dunn prayed for the family, including the three children — Emily, Katy and Joshua — and presented God’s Word to them, with the marker set in 2 Timothy 4:2: ‘Preach the word, be ready in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine’.
The congregation sang a hymn chosen by the couple, ‘Lord for the years’, before Mr Dunn preached the sermon. After the service, all were invited to the Jefferys’ house for a buffet lunch, to share in fellowship.