Retirement of Canon Jim Campbell
Rector of St Mark's Parish, Portadown


A tribute by Mr Tom Flannagan

I have been asked by our vestry to say a few words tonight as we say thank you to Canon Campbell and Barbara for their work and service to the parish of St Mark’s , Portadown for  almost 14 years. As I spoke to the rector about this evening’s event, being a humble man, he intimated that all he wanted were a few jokes! No big speeches!
We have all heard in the past Jim tell a few jokes and I’m sure he has a few up his sleeve for later tonight so to get you in the mood here is a quick selection of church jokes-all of them totally cringe worthy and quite corny.  You have to listen really carefully to catch these quick fire observations!
The secret of a good sermon is a good beginning and a good ending and have the two as close as possible!
SS teacher “why is it important to be quiet in church?” because “people are sleeping!”
SS A boy in the class was really engaged when he heard how Eve was made from the rib of Adam.  One day at home he lay down on the floor-“I have a pain in my side! I think I am going to have a wife.”
SS A young boy insisted that God’s first name was Andy and he was so pleased because he was Andrew- Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own!
SS Andrew had heard the story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt after looking back at Sodom and was keen to tell his teacher that “my mum looked back when driving and she turned into a telephone pole!”
Boys bragged about how easily their fathers could make money:   My father scribbles a few words calls it a poem and gets £50! My father scribbles a few words calls it a song and gets £100!  My father preaches a sermon and it needs 12 people to collect all the money afterwards!
Seriously joke telling takes me out of my comfort zone so I will now be a wee bit more serious. An occasion and an opportunity like this demand that I spend a few minutes, on behalf of the parishioners of St Mark’s, to convey our thanks and appreciation to our retiring Rector and his wife Barbara.

Jim has been our Rector during a time of unprecedented cultural, technological and economic change. As a church we need to face all of these challenges together but inevitably we rely heavily on the leadership of one man! And sometimes too heavily.  Major developments in the areas of child protection, health and safety, food hygiene, computerisation and communication along with what I have already mentioned unprecedented cultural, technological and economic change provide the context in which modern ministry operates. In a very specific way we also recognise the reality of the age spectrum of our congregation.
Those who say the gospel never changes are right but to ignore this context in which the gospel is shared and delivered is clearly wrong and self-defeating. As a consequence of this we need to recognise, without equivocation of any sort, that Jim has worked tirelessly over many hours, days, weeks, months and years to deliver a high quality ministry in Portadown.  He has sacrificed more personal time each day than we spend watching television!
There have many significant highlights in Jim’s time at St Mark’s and these have been faithfully recorded for posterity by our Hon Sec Ivan Davison and as I don’t want these comments tonight to stretch to the length of the Rector’s annual parish report (which average about 12 A4 pages) I do not intend to dwell on them.  My observation is that we will all recall what is significant and personal to us because in spite of being a large community our Rector has a gift for caring, sensitive pastoral engagement at an individual level; the results of which will only be evident when we experience that “new creation” in the future. 
Over that last few months I have been exercised by the simple truth; the all-knowing capacity of God.  I believe if we really believe this it will have a profound effect on the way we live our lives, interact with others and spend time in service to others or ourselves. In other words God knows what motivates us from the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep.  Are we motivated by our own selfish aims or those of others and of God?
Speaking in Revelation to the church at Ephesus John wrote ” I know what you do, how you work hard and never give up, you have patience and have suffered troubles for my name and have not given up.” We have no doubt what motivates Jim Campbell- “God, the all-knowing God, God knows what he has done, God knows you have worked hard and never given up, God knows that at times you have suffered troubles for the sake of the Gospel and not given up- the all-knowing capacity of God is something we all need to come to terms with, not to be afraid but to embrace it as a gift of Grace and as an inspiration for our closer walk with God.
On an occasion like this we offer and recognise in a very public way our thanks and gratitude to Jim and Barbara for the numerous levels of involvement in parish life (and sometimes additional involvement because of lack of volunteers in some areas). We recognise them for the people they are, for the qualities they demonstrate as they seek to make Christ known.  Jim’s ministry has been marked by courage and courtesy at all times (as pupils, former pupils teachers and former teachers of Pc will recognise as the school motto).
This evening is about looking back but also looking forward should not be avoided.  As I am retired I can thoroughly recommend the experience but I received a little piece of advice when reading my granddaughter’s story book-
GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH YOU YET!  (the story of a disgruntled caterpillar who was jealous of the adult butterflies)
In retirement your faith will continue to grow and develop as you put into practise what you have taught us through your sermons today. 

One of the many tributes paid to Canon Campbell at a special event after his last service as Rector of St Mark’s. 
The parochial hall was packed to capacity with friends, family and parishioners. 
Their son Peter and his fiancée Vicky made the journey from London to be present for the special day.