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St Mary's vicar Simon Harvey says goodbye to Islington as he moves on after eight years

PUBLISHED: 14:53 04 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 09 January 2019

Rev Simon Harvey inside St Mary’s Islington

Rev Simon Harvey inside St Mary’s Islington

Archant

An Upper Street vicar will say goodbye to Islington after nearly more than eight years' service when he leads his final sermon on Sunday.

Rev Simon Harvey in front of St Mary’s IslingtonRev Simon Harvey in front of St Mary’s Islington

An Upper Street vicar said goodbye to Islington when he leads his final sermon on Sunday.

Simon Harvey has been working at St Mary’s Church since 2010 but is now moving to a new parish (with, confusingly, the same moniker) in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

After his final sermon, the 55-year-old vicar spoke to the Gazette about his tenure in Islington and what comes next.

“It [the service] was terrific,” he said. “It was a really special occasion with lots of people, including those who don’t usually come to church who I have got to know in the community.

Rev Simon Harvey and Jo Harveyat his last service. Picture: Polly HancockRev Simon Harvey and Jo Harveyat his last service. Picture: Polly Hancock

“I feel quite sad about leaving St Mary’s and also Islington,” said Simon.

“When you’re a vicar I think it’s important to put down roots and really get to belong in that community, so when you move on it’s painful.”

In the eight and a half years since Simon joined St Mary’s in 2010, the congregation has grown and a Sunday service now averages 167 people.

But 230 came to say goodbye on Sunday.

The Islington Gazette is holding a local elections hustings at St Mary's Church in Upper Street. Picture: Gordon Joly/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0The Islington Gazette is holding a local elections hustings at St Mary's Church in Upper Street. Picture: Gordon Joly/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Citing another achievement during his tenure, he said the church is now open to everyone to “explore and pray with God” during the daylight hours.

“We have done some good things together,” he said.

“I think we have had to become more outgoing and open to the community as a church to our community. We have also grown as a church.”

One example of this, quite literal, opening up was when Simon allowed the Gazette to host its 2017 local election hustings in St Mary’s.

Jonathon James McPhillips funeral 31.03.17. Procession led by a Scots piper and Rev Simon Harvey of St Mary’s ChurchJonathon James McPhillips funeral 31.03.17. Procession led by a Scots piper and Rev Simon Harvey of St Mary’s Church

“I had never lived in London before I came here,” said Simon, who previously lived in the Midlands.

“I will miss the people and the energy and mix that goes on in Islington. Every day, it’s different – it’s been a fabulous place to live and work.

Simon moved to Islington with his wife Jennifer, who died after a short illness in 2016.

But he found love again with Jo, who he married in 2017

Jo and Simon Harvey pictured outside St Mary's Islington after his last service. Picture: Polly HancockJo and Simon Harvey pictured outside St Mary's Islington after his last service. Picture: Polly Hancock

St Mary’s will be advertising for a new vicar.

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