CHURCHWARDEN Sue Kanavan has been the longest-serving in the Portsmouth diocese.
And the 66-year-old stepped down on Sunday after 24 years at Church of the Holy Spirit, in Fawcett Road, Southsea.
She has overseen two interregnums – when the parish has been between vicars – and a huge £750,000 rebuilding project to bring the worship space and parish halls together under one roof.
The former headteacher said: ‘I feel very blessed to have been able to do the role of churchwarden and very privileged to be a member of such a lovely church and the universal Anglican Church.
‘I just wonder how people manage if they haven’t got a faith because I don’t think I could.’
Sue grew up in a Christian household. Her family have been worshipping at the Church of the Holy Spirit since it was built in the 1950s.
In her early 20s she became secretary of the deanery synod – the Anglican body covering the city of Portsmouth – and joined the Parochial Church Council of her own church.
In 1989, the then vicar, the Rev Richard Evans, asked her to serve as churchwarden.
Sue said: ‘I do believe that one should change these roles regularly to bring fresh people in, but it just never seems to have happened.
‘Over the years we have had two interregnums and each time people said to me “you can’t go now”.
‘We had the rebuilding work, which was a journey that lasted another five or six years, and I couldn’t leave in the middle of that.
‘When we appointed Phillip Amey as our new priest-in-charge at the beginning of last year, he asked me to stay while he settled in. I agreed but said to him that this year I really must retire.
‘The time seems right. It is early in his priest-in-charge time and, God willing, we will have him for a good few years to come.’
Churchwardens are volunteers who are accountable to the bishop and vicar, and their role is to take care of the church building and its property on behalf of the parish.
But Sue won’t be putting her feet up yet – she will continue to organise the church’s annual pilgrimage to Walsingham and head the events planning committee, as well as helping design the Easter garden and preparing the church for major festivals and key events.
And she will carry on as a member of the choir.