THE Rev Simon Richardson has said farewell to Hillsborough Parish after spending five years there as first their curate and then as rector.
Simon and his family will be moving on to Holywood Parish where he has accepted an invitation to work part-time as a curate.
When Simon was appointed rector back in 2008, he had just been accepted to study for a doctorate in Belfast. He was, however, aware that it would be impossible to fulfill the more-than-full-time demands of being Rector of Hillsborough alongside part-time study.
In his letter m the parish magazine Simon said that he had become,
"increasingly convinced that God
continues to call me to go deeper into theological study, and I have always been determined to respond, as well as I may by his grace, to God's calling on my life, wherever it may lead me.
"So, since Hillsborough still heeds and deserves a full-time Rector, I have therefore decided that I will step down from my current role."
Simon's new post will allow him to spend two days a week at Union Theological College in Belfast.
"This has not been an easy decision, for many reasons, and many people will think it a strange one", he continued.
"However, if God calls me to step down from a place of such honour, and to reduce my income, in order to study him more, and simply to be obedient, hopefully the last lesson I will leave in Hillsborough is that sacrifice for God is joy in itself.
"Moreover, although I hope that I have made some difference here, I believe that it is for someone else to lead this parish into the next significant stage of its growth and development - and I will always pray this for Hillsborough; I remain convinced of the potential in this place to be a shining beacon of the Gospel."
Sunday 14th August was Simon's last as rector and Sunday 21st will see him introduced in Holywood.