CHURCH COLUMN: Giving thanks for loved ones at Gosport

REMEMBERING Mary Close visits the grave of her husband in the churchyard at St Johns, Rowlands Castle
REMEMBERING Mary Close visits the grave of her husband in the churchyard at St Johns, Rowlands Castle
David Cotton. Picture: Sussex Police

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CANON JOHN DRAPER, rector, St Mary the Virgin, Rowner, on a special service on Sunday for those who have died

THIS coming Sunday afternoon at 3pm, we will have a very special service in St Mary the Virgin Church, Rowner.

It is our annual service of thanksgiving for the faithful departed.

For some people, it will be the first year since the death of a dear member of the family or of a close friend.

Others will be attending to give thanks to God for a loved one once again.

No matter how many years go by, the pain of passing may well still be there, and the feeling of bereavement or loss can still be very raw.

At the service, which will last about 40 minutes, we have prayers and favourite hymns and then listen to music while the names of those who have died over the past 10 years or so are read out.

The names we have recorded are read out month by month. I always anticipate hearing the names of both my parents who died some time ago, but who I still miss very much indeed.

Some people will find this difficult to bear, which is entirely understandable.

Afterwards we meet together and chat over a cup of tea and cake so we can exchange memories and help each other reflect.

For we clergy, it is good to see again those families who we may have visited at the time of their bereavement, or led the funeral for their relative. We see some old friends each year.

Some people come and light a candle; naming their loved one as their name is read out.

Some stay away, not just because of distance, but because the event is just too painful – we shall still read out the names.

One of the hymns we sing sums up for me my Christian belief in the eternal life promised us by Christ:

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,

Endless is the victory thou over death hast won.

We don’t pray to the dead, but rather for them, and it is a service of comfort and good cheer, full of hope and confidence. Do come and join us: you will be made very welcome.

St Mary the Virgin Church, 174 Rowner Lane, Gosport PO13 9SU

Tel: (023) 9258 1834

Website: rownerparishchurch.org.