What qualities make a good churchwarden? You need strong faith, a pastoral heart, wisdom, resilience … Oh, and the ability to ride a bicycle. Well, the last bit was maybe an added extra, but it was certainly something that Franklin Pond brought to the role during his decade or so in office. Formerly a postman and more recently a Betterware man, Franklin knows the parish like the back of his hand, reaching out to people who live in Chapeltown and Potternewton, whether they go to church or not: keeping them in touch with what we’re doing at St Martin’s, bringing their concerns and needs to the church, and often collecting a kind donation or two for the church or Christian Aid. Norma Sampson is well-known and well-loved in the area too, keeping in touch with the local community through the Black Elders, and being a friendly face and listening ear to so many people: as a member of the pastoral team, she has made sure that the elderly and housebound are visited and receive home communion if they request it.
Both Norma and Franklin have led by the example of their strong faith. Norma has served as sacristan, faithfully setting up communion each Sunday and Wednesday; Franklin regularly leads intercessions in church and during the past three years has been leading Morning Prayer once a month. Behind the scenes, they make sure that everything runs smoothly on a Sunday morning: checking that there are people to read, lead the prayers and serve at communion, and stepping in themselves when needed. And they are always there to help out at weddings and funerals.
Being a churchwarden means getting involved in every area of parish life, from the smallest task to the most responsible. Both Norma and Franklin have rolled up their sleeves in so many ways to help make sure that the church is clean, tidy and well-maintained, and to make sure that fundraisers are successful. But they have also shouldered great responsibilities, not least when they looked after the parish during the 18-month vacancy (as I used to point out, ‘I’m not in charge; Norma and Franklin are in charge’). They have both taken their legal duties seriously but more importantly they have faithfully fulfilled the solemn promises they have made to God each year at the Archdeacon’s Visitation.
After more than a decade of sterling service, they are both stepping down from office. We wish them both the heartiest of thanks and every blessing for their future in God’s service, wherever that may lead them.
And we welcome Jason Clark as our new churchwarden and wish him well as he takes up the role. Here’s hoping you’ve got a bicycle, Jason!
Revd Jane de Gay
As Franklin Pond and Norma Sampson have now retired after many years as indefatigable churchwardens of St Martin’s, leaving large shoes to fill (and two pairs at that…) to Jason Clark, newly elected warden at the recent church annual meeting, I take this opportunity to add my heartfelt thanks to those expressed here by Revd Jane, who has known them for a long time. I have worked with them for less than two years, and yet I owe them a large debt of gratitude for their support when I first arrived to this new post, for their hard work, and most of all for the example of their deep Christian faith, made concrete in the caring attention they have always given to each individual member of the congregation. I find that impressing and edifying.
I know that their commitment to this community is far from being over. They continue to serve in all the other responsibilities, besides being wardens, that they have taken over the years. For what you have given to this parish church and for what you continue to give, thank you Norma, thank you Franklin!