A lovely afternoon in April saw some 150 people come together in East Leake village hall to thank God for the ministry of Roger Hitchings. Together with his wife Cathy, he has served the Lord faithfully in the village, and further afield, since 1997.
The afternoon began with a service of thanksgiving led by Paul Brunning, who has worked alongside Mr Hitchings since last August.
Alun McNabb, who had preached at Mr Hitchings’ induction, spoke on the theme of thankfulness. He said the people who had listened to Roger Hitchings over the past 14 years should thank God that, through him, they had been taught three important things.
In days of increasing confusion, they had heard the truth. They had received warnings as to their true spiritual state, to which they should have responded; or, in their difficulties in walking the pilgrim way, had been given comfort.
Mr McNabb concluded by reading Ephesians 1:1-12, the verses on which Mr Hitchings had been preaching during the closing weeks of his ministry.
After the service, thankfulness to God was expressed for the Hitchings’ conversion, their marriage in 1968, Roger’s calling to the ministry, and God’s calling of them to serve in East Leake.
Taking such examples from the Scriptures as: Epaphras, who prayed much for others; Philemon, who ‘refreshed the hearts of the saints’; Priscilla and Aquila, who were ‘fellow workers in Christ’; and Gaius, who was ‘faithful to the truth’; God was praised for the Hitchings’ similar work ‘in the Lord’ during their time at East Leake.
The church gave gifts of a computer projector, a card signed by members and attendees, and also a cheque. Mrs Hitchings was given a crystal vase and bouquet of flowers. A book was presented to them containing photographs of members and attendees, and some of the activities of the past 14 years.
After thanking all for coming and for these gifts, Mr Hitchings reminded those present of God’s goodness in four areas — God’s wisdom in all his dealings with the fellowship at East Leake; the Lord’s great faithfulness in keeping harmony; the Lord’s great mercy in opening doors for service; and the Lord’s goodness in blessing his Word.
He said there had been three priorities in his ministry — prayer, preaching and pastoring. Even though he felt he had done each of these inadequately, there had been eager attention and humble response from the people.
He thanked the Lord that he had been blessed with a people who had prayed. Mr Hitchings concluded with an amended quote from Samuel Rutherford:
Oh! If one from East Leake
Meet me at God’s right hand,
My heaven will be two heavens,
In Immanuel’s land.
Those able to stay on enjoyed a wonderful buffet provided by members and friends of the church.