Our Principal Officer for Intermediate Ecumenism, Governance Support and Resources, Jenny Bond, takes early retirement at the end of this month after more than twenty-two years of committed service to Churches Together in England.
She has been a “great servant of English ecumenism” and takes with her our grateful thanks and good wishes for her ‘next adventures’.
The CTE General Secretary from 2008 to 2018, David Cornick, gave this tribute to Jenny at her farewell event:
“Jenny and I were colleagues for ten years, and during that time I grew to appreciate her manifold skills and insights.
“Let me begin where Jenny’s working heart lay – and that was in the network of county and other intermediate ecumenical officers. Unsung heroes, performing miracles on shoestring budgets, facing off marginalisation, yet so often at the heart of great initiatives. Truth is, the closer ecumenism gets to the ground in local communities the more obvious it becomes. Jenny fostered, supported and loved those people. She held a network of training, encouragement and conversation. No sooner was a new person in post than Jenny was on the phone, making contact, beginning a friendship. I think it’s probably true that without Jenny that singularly important part of English ecumenism would have withered on the vine in the dog days of diminished funding.
“But there was more. As staff roles changed, Jenny took on the triennial Forum, and her mastery of spreadsheets and technology found a home. It was organisation down to the final spreadsheet cell. As the General Secretary, one of my alternative titles could have been ‘Procrastinator General’ – never do today what you could do next month, because you might have a better idea. That kind of subtle sinfulness was swallowed whole and regurgitated by the spreadsheet, and a firm voice on the phone saying, ‘No, I’m sorry, I need that decision now.’ The result? Superb Forums, attended by an ever-increasing constituency.
“But there was more. Rome. Jenny was a key player in the scheme to take a group of ecumenical officers to Rome to meet with key ecumenical players and thus deepen our understanding of Catholicism. Jenny’s nose for good pasta in bistros, her astonishing range of contacts, and her berating of the taxi driver who delivered us to the wrong St Paul’s, but above all her companionship as we worshipped in one of the catacomb chapels under St Peter’s, form part of one of the most memorable weeks in my life.
“I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll finish with just a few images. Jenny at the tech frontier, always leaving the rest of us in the shade – although I still don’t understand why anyone would want emails of their wrists. Jenny the great home cook and host – help yourself to a G & T – and when I politely asked for a spirit measure, Jenny replied ‘What on earth do you need one of those for? I normally drink with priests!’ But above all, Jenny the Catholic, the spiritual director, and the theologian (although she’d fiercely repudiate the title) who helped her Protestant colleagues into a whole new and beautiful dimension of our shared faith.
Jenny, great servant of English ecumenism, you’ve enriched so many. Like many gathered here, I value your friendship hugely. Thank you for everything. And enjoy all the possibilities and opportunities which retirement brings.”
Jenny’s farewell event was hosted by CTE President, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, at Archbishop’s House.