Nearly 200 people filled Hemyock Village Hall for a Sunday service to say farewell to Blackdown Hills church minister Steven Reed and his wife Hazel. It was 10 years to the day since Steven began the work of leading Hemyock Baptist Church, during which time many positive things had happened in the life of the congregation which had enjoyed steady growth.
The service was followed by lunch at the Healthy Living Centre where several local people took time to comment on Steven's ministry which had impacted not just the church but also the wider community. Speaking on behalf of the Parish Council where he had served for 6 years, the vice chairman Ian McCulloch reflected upon the steady commitment and ready humour which Steven had brought to the council's work.
Dr Jonathan Meads recalled the valuable contribution Steven had made to a number of organisations including the Cameo Club and the Healthy Living Centre which had recently opened. The vision for the 'learning space' was particularly Steven's he said and it was he who had sought the Lottery grant to fund the computers and other equipment which were now in regular use for the benefit of the community.
Retired minister Rev John Doble spoke warmly about Steven's ministry, recalling that 10 years ago, it had been predicted that his arrival would bring change to the church. He was pleased to say that such change was not major or sudden, but brought over time allowing the church to become accustomed to the new ways of thinking. Importantly, and central to his ministry, Steven had always preached the importance of personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Steven was the visionary for Blackdown Hills Christians (BHC) which is a cooperative of Churches working together in the Hills said Peter Girling from St Nicholas Church in Dunkeswell and who serves on the Steering Group. There had been some significant joint events since BHC was founded in 2008 he said, including the visit of major international speakers such as Adrian Plaas and Ishmael, who may not have come to this rural area had BHC not been formed.
In response, Steven thanked the church for its generous gifts and said that the Church and community had warmly welcomed them and enabled their ministry and gifting to find a ready home. The strength of the church was a gifted and committed congregation, the vitality of the community was the willingness to allow people to engage their talents to the benefit of all he said. He concluded his remarks by saying that they had made many real and special friends and it was these who would draw them back to the Hills.
Steven & Hazel are moving to Taunton where Steven will become a Chaplain at Musgrove Hospital as well as continuing his role as Chaplain to Devon Army Cadets.