Extract from a sermon preached at ‘A service of Thanksgiving and Retirement for the Revd Preb Rosémia Brown’ at St James the Great, Clapton, Sunday 23 July 2023 by the Revd Andrew Wilson:
“Thanksgiving to God for you Rosémia comes so easily to me. I think of your time as a Reader, your training at Cuddesdon, your time at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch and St John’s Hoxton with Paul Turp and Malcolm Macnaughton, your involvement with St Saviour’s Priory and your first Eucharist there, the huge contribution you have made to Cursillo, you as a role model to many as the second black woman to be instituted as an incumbent in a Stepney parish, your chaplaincy to St John’s Ambulance, to Mary Seacole House, to the Drapers’ Company for a year, your involvement and campaigning with London Citizens (including all the Credit Union work you did), the astonishing number of Pilgrimages you have led to the Holy Land since 1987, your ecumenical work, your work with the Council of Christian and Jews, your chaplaincy at the Mildmay and the Homerton, your six years on the Diocesan Advisory Committee, your chaplaincy of the Mothers’ Union, your four years as part of The Listening Service at St Andrew’s, Holborn, your five years as Area Dean of Hackney, your ten years as a Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral, and most of all your twenty-one years at James’s, Clapton. That’s an astonishing ministry, lived out in the main in Hackney, with some pretty incredible travelling thrown in.
For the young woman who arrived in 1972 from the Seychelles to work as an Au Pair, you have most certainly packed it in – and we thank God for you; and we salute and we pay tribute to you for all that you given to the life of the church in this part of London; and we love you for who you are, especially in my mind for your feistiness in the face of the betting shop owner, or the unjust money lender, in the face of those who brand a stretch of road ‘Murder Mile’ instead of working to make it something other than that, in the face of those who fail to see the radiant goodness of the lives of many who live here, your feistiness in the face of companies failing to pay their cleaners properly, in the face of injustice of any kind.
And you combine that feistiness and that fight for justice with remarkable human warmth, which you extend very widely and has been a source of light and warmth for all of those – me very much very included – who have been fortunate enough to know you. Thanks be to God, indeed, for you – dear Rosémia.
May I say a few words about your husband Burnett. Praise be to God for you Burnett as well. Every time I’m here you’re either running the sound system, or about to write a cheque, or repairing something, or heading out the door to give someone a lift, or to deliver some much needed food to those in need. I honestly don’t know how you do it, but I thank you for all you’ve done most sincerely. You have played a key part in the ministry here and I know the community of this church, and many further afield, feel indebted to you. God richly bless you for all that you have done and given here.
And praise God Rosémia and Burnett for your children, Claude and Isaura, and for your granddaughter Luna Rae, baptised this very Easter at St James’s. Every possible blessing on every member of the family.”
Rosémia has been a great figure in the life of the church in Stepney and in the wider Diocese. Congregation members past and present and colleagues locally and from further afield have been gathering this last fortnight to give thanks for her, and to pay tribute to all that she has given throughout her remarkable, faithful ministry.
The Revd Preb Rosémia Brown (Deacon, 1999; Priest, 2000) retires from St James the Great, Clapton on 30 July 2023.