AFTER 10 years of ministry in the town, a Kidderminster church leader has taken the decision to retire from her role.

Rev Mary Austin, minister of Trinity, Broadwaters and Foley Park Methodist Churches, will give her last service on Sunday.

Mrs Austin, who is also the area’s circuit superintendent, feels the time is right start a new chapter in her life.

“I’ve loved being in Kidderminster and in leaving I will miss the people dearly but it feels like the right time to let go,” she said.

“One of the great privileges of ministry is to be invited alongside the special moments in people’s lives.

“Not only am I frequently asked to be there when somebody dies, I’ve also been first in the maternity word when a baby is delivered – just to be there is incredibly rewarding.”

Mrs Austin has been a minister for 21 years, taking over the leadership of Trinity Methodist Church and Broadwaters Methodist Church 10 years ago.

Mrs Austin said: “One of the things that I’ve really valued is the willingness and enthusiasm of people within the church to engage with our projects.

“Ministers can’t do it on their own and need everyone to work together.”

One of the lasting memories Mrs Austin will take with her as she retires is one which is not necessarily positive.

In December, 2008, just over a week before Christmas, a fire broke out in Trinity Methodist Church, causing £350,000 worth of damage.

Mrs Austin said: “The inside of the church was completely destroyed.

“It was a terribly sad time for most people, as it was the place they got married or a loved one’s funeral had taken place – it held so many different memories for people.

“However, it made us stronger and we now have a beautiful 21st century sanctuary area.”

Mrs Austin’s superintendent role is being taken on by Rev Phil Hoar, who is a minister in Stourport and Bewdley, while Rev Nick Collison will be taking over the role of minister at the three Methodist Churches, supported by Rev Denise Williamson.

Trinity Methodist Church is hosting a retirement tea for Mrs Austin at 4.30pm on Saturday.