For the past 25 years, Jayne Seward has played a key role in the life of the worshipping community at St Matthew’s and the Minster in Cheltenham. On 10 September, the church marked Jayne’s retirement together, recognising the joy and hope she gave to all those she encountered.
Richard Coombs, Rector of Cheltenham, says, “Jayne has been a member of St Matthew’s and the Minster, Cheltenham, since 1987, but she has been leading the children and families’ ministry since 1998, initially as a volunteer but for the last 20 years as a member of the church staff team. But she has been so much more than Children and Families’ Minister.
“As she delights to remind us, she has done every job at St Matthew’s and The Minster apart from Rector: she’s been youth minister, administrator, facilities manager, young adults minister, preacher, service leader and, many others. But it is her role as Children and Families’ Minister that she is relinquishing.
“To sum up the last 25 years is an impossible task and Jayne would hate me to say too much because, first and foremost, Jayne is ‘passionate about Jesus’ – our church’s vision statement which she embodies and, as such, hates the attention being on her but wants to magnify Jesus. As John the Baptist said, ‘He must increase, I must decrease’ (John 3:30). And that is the first and most significant reason why Jayne has been such a blessing to this church and the hundreds of families, children and young people that have been in her care.
“The second reason for Jayne being such a gift to this church is that, like Paul, she ‘delights to share with people, not just the gospel, but her life as well’ (1 Thessalonians 2:8). For Jayne, St Matthew’s and The Minster, and especially the families and children, are her life. She has given herself in the most remarkable way to us and, as a result, she doesn’t just teach the families and children, she embodies the gospel so that we see Jesus in action in her. As Paul goes on to say, the result of such a ministry is that families and children don’t just ‘hear the word of God as a human word but as it actually is, the word of God which is at work in those who believe’ (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
“I haven’t done any detailed research, but I guess that there are literally hundreds of people up and down the country and across the world who are believers today and some are in full-time ministry because of what they were taught by Jayne in the Sunday Club here at St Matthew’s and the Minster. Thank you Jayne, for all that you have done for the Lord, for His Church and for us, and we can’t wait to see what He has planned for you in the years to come.”