The parish of St Lawrence with St Paul in Longridge came together to celebrate the work of server minister Lawrence Ingham, who has stepped back from his role after nearly 18 years.
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Lawrence has worked as head server at the church since 2000, although his server ministry started more than 30 years ago at Blackburn Cathedral.
In his time in Longridge, he has trained more than 80 young people to be servers, some of those young people having later gone on to serve as Deacons and to administer the chalice; others having continued as servers up to going to university.
Parish spokeswoman Dot Little said: “Lawrence and Hilary arrived in Longridge around the same time as Rev Simon Aiken so he has been a wonderful support to three Longridge vicars, always carrying out his role with the utmost efficiency and care.
“Also, Lawrence has for many years, supported Confirmation preparation, so again countless numbers benefiting from the wonderful rapport he has with young people, all of whom have shown great respect and loyalty to him.
It has been a great privilege to have had this wonderful ministry with children and teenagers, who have been a great inspiration to me.
“Lawrence, as he approaches his 80th birthday, feels it’s time to step down from that servers’ leader role and to give Hilary some company by sitting in the congregation at Sunday Services.
“The parish has been blessed by having him in such an important role for so many years, but we too think Hilary deserves to have his company so they can enjoy worshipping together.”
Lawrence’s role will be taken on by George Green, with able support from James Waterman.
However, Lawrence will certainly not be bowing out of parish life – he will be on the sideperson’s rota and remain closely involved with the parish magazine The Log.
He says: “It has been a great privilege to have had this wonderful ministry with children and teenagers, who have been a great inspiration to me.
“There comes a time when one should be prepared to hand over responsibility to a younger person and I am delighted that George Green, who I have known since his confirmation preparation, is to take on the role of Servers’ Leader.’
This year also marks a very special year for the parish which will be celebrating 150 years since the Ecclesiastical Parish of Longridge was formed.
It was in 1868 that St Lawrence’s officially became a Parish Church, a title it has retained despite the building of St Paul’s Church in 1890.
In 1968, the then Vicar of Longridge, Rev Peter Furness felt the 100-year milestone should be celebrated and now 50 years on, the parish will once again be coming together to mark the occasion.
A 150th anniversary committee was formed in the autumn and working with the social committee and with the support of the PCC has almost finalised an appropriate, enjoyable and meaningful programme of events which the wider church family can embrace and participate in.
The events will start after Easter from the middle of April onwards culminating in a special two-week period in September, when parishioners will welcome both the Bishop of Blackburn and the Archdeacon of Lancaster to Sunday Services, with the opportunity to share evening worship in our previous mother church at Ribchester.
Exhibitions using both church buildings, a band concert in St Lawrence’s and a Parish Variety night at the Civic Hall are all included.
Dot adds: “During this year every effort is being made to obtain grants to help us reach our roof repair fund target.
“But of course the roof at St Paul’s needs urgently repairing and we will, certainly up to April be trying to keep the momentum of the appeal going and of course donations towards that appeal will most certainly be welcomed throughout 2018.
“It’s been a wonderful ministry from Lawrence, conducted with the utmost reverence and efficiency.
“It would be interesting to record just how many young people have benefited from Lawrence’s expertise and training.
“One thing we are sure is that either through Confirmation preparation or through being a server those young people will never forget the interest and encouragement they were given by this remarkable Christian gentleman”