Market Rasen Parish Church was packed for the service of celebration and thanksgiving for the ministry of the Rev Michael Cartwright who retires next month.
Leading the service was the Rev Canon Ian Robinson, Rural Dean, who praised the Rev Cartwright for his “belief in the value of rural ministry.”
“Michael feels passionate about the people he was sent to serve,” said the Rev Robinson.
“We will be the poorer after Michael leaves us, but all richer for having the privilege of sharing our lives with him.”
The Rev Cartwright was appointed as vicar of Market Rasen in 1987, having spent the previous ten years in Teeside.
“At the time, I thought I would maybe spend ten years here and then move on - but that wasn’t to be,” he said.
During his 25 years in the town, the Rev Cartwright served the wider area as Rural Dean, as well as being vicar of Legsby, Linwood and Lissington.
And at Market Rasen, he has overseen a number of large projects - the restoration of the organ, bells and tower.
“If you saw a picture of the church when I arrived and compared it to one today it wouldn’t look any different” said the Rev Cartwright.
“But in those 25 years, not I, but we have done some pretty amazing things.
“We have a thriving congregation and community here, where people share talents and care for each other and I thank them all for their love, care and support over so many years.”
And it was people from all the areas the Rev Cartwright serves who packed St Thomas’s Church for the service on Sunday, during which a presentation was made to him and his wife Lynn.
A specially commissioned painting and a cheque for £975 was given to the couple.
“When Michael and Lynn go, they will leave a massive void,” said Market Rasen Churchwarden Tony Parkinson.
“We wish them a long happy healthy and well-deserved retirement – more than that we want to encourage them to go and spend time doing just what they want to do and whatever takes their fancy.
The Rev Michael Cartwright’s final service at Market Rasen will be at 10am on December 9.
The couple will be staying within Lincolnshire, moving to the village of Welbourn on the other side of Lincoln.