Aylesbury church holds thanksgiving service in memory of 'gentle' pastor of 40 years
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Pastor Linda Jean Woodhouse, along with her husband, Alan, formed Aylesbury Vale Community Church back in 1976.
The pair were the driving force behind the church’s expansion to become one of the biggest sanctuary’s in town.
Last month after two years of Covid-related delays, members of the Aylesbury parish came together to celebrate the pastor’s life.
As well as holding a ceremony dedicated to the long-serving pastor, the church also raised money in her name.
A ceremonial cheque was handed out to Florence Nightingale Hospice, as church members had rallied to raise over £1,000 for one of Aylesbury’s best-known charities.
Church leader Anna Troke said: “She was a very gentle quiet person, but very wise.”
"A beautiful sweet spirit, and a prayer warrior,” Pastor Alan adds.
A plaque has now been dedicated to the pastor who died at the age of 72 in 2020.
It reads: “A heart after God’s own, now ‘Dancing With Angels’. Forever loved and always remembered.”
She played an integral role in the work the church has done to serve its local community.
Over the years it has developed carer and tots groups, a youth group, assisted a food bank and facilitated fundraisers including £40,000 health centre in Kenya.
As a key leader at the church Pastor Linda was heavily involved in these beneficial projects.
The church was a very different instruction when initially founded by the husband and wife in the mid 70s.
Anna added: “They established the church in 1976, just as a house church. Meeting a need they felt there was in the area for a bible-believing church.
"Then it went on it grow, they rented buildings, it got bigger. To now, with the church owning its own building.”
The ceremony was seen as a ‘thanksgiving’ rather than a conventional wake.
As only 12 family members could attend Linda’s funeral two years ago, the ceremony gave various people in the community their chance to say what the pastor meant to them.
This included messages sent from abroad via a videolink, reflecting the way the church has helped people further afield during Linda’s tenure.
After the talks, a memorial garden was opened up in Linda’s name.
Anna said: “Because she was someone who really liked to reflect and pray. It was felt that a garden would be really befitting to honour her.”
Anna who is also Linda’s daughter said that Florence Nightingale’s Hospice was chosen as the charity to be represented at the thanksgiving for its role supporting her mum when she was sick.
And also because of the standing the local charity holds within the Aylesbury community, she said: “It was because of the support that they’d given us.
"We know that it has been an organisation that has been run predominantly in Aylesbury for people from Aylesbury for many years.
"Because they helped her during her short sickness and enabled her to stay at home.
"And we met the nurses and the carers, and they had a real impact on the family, as well as Pastor Linda.
"We just felt that it was something that the church wanted to give back, that would be very for much for the community that would help other people.”
Liza Brissenden Hemstock, trusts and major donor manager, who attended the ceremony on behalf of the charity, told The Bucks Herald that the money raised would go towards supporting the community nursing team.
The nurses offer a free service which enables people to spend their final weeks and days at home in familiar surroundings.