Long-serving church rector honoured ahead of retirement

Rev Ian Byrne (middle) with daugther Charlotte and wife Ann and Deacon Anthony Speca (left) and chur

Rev Ian Byrne (middle) with daugther Charlotte and wife Ann and Deacon Anthony Speca (left) and church treasurer Stephen Went (right). PHOTO: Terry Reeve. - Credit: Archant

A town’s church congretation has said farewell to one of their longest-serving rectors ahead of his retirement after more than a decade in the post.

On Sunday, Rev Ian Byrne’s last service at the Holy Trinity Church, in Bungay, came exactly 14 years to the day he was inducted into the town’s post.

Over the years, the role was extended to the Bungay benefice, including the churches of Barsham with Shipmeadow and Mettingham.

No one has held the post for longer than Rev Byrne since Canon William Lummis served as vicar of Bungay between 1941 and 1959.

Following his final service at the church, held following strict social distancing guidelines and without hymns, Rev Byrne and wife Ann were presented with retirement gifts contributed by the congregations of Bungay and Mettingham, including a cheque, a picture of Bungay’s Butter Cross, whisky and flowers.

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Churchwarden Terry Reeve thanked Rev Byrne for his leadership and dedication during his time in the role, saying it included developments of which he could be proud and the congregation could be thankful for.

These develepments include a new room built at the back of the church under the organ loft, completed in 2014, the provision of a benefice office, an work which had just started on repairs to the tower and porch as the result of the latest inspection.

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Rev Byrne has also overseen the licensing of a team of 15 lay elders in the benefice, extending communion to care homes, and the establishment of several church groups.

He was also a volunteer for the Norfolk Blood Bikers and served in the army for 30 years before joining the clergy in 2001.

Mr Reeve also paid tribute to the great support of Rev Byrne’s wife Ann and her work for the church over the years, including with the Anglican Ladies Guild.

He said: “You have certainly both earned your retirement, and these gifts come with our best wishes for life in your new home in Wymondham.

“They also come with out love and prayers and thanks for your time in the Bungay benefice.”

Rev Byrne, who thanked the congregation for their support over the years, will lead his final service at Barsham on Sunday, September 13 before his official retirement on October 31.

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