MEMBERS and friends of a local church will gathered yesterday to say their goodbyes to the church pastor, who has served the community for the last eight years.

Reverend Ken Jefferson, pastor of Barnsley Baptist Church, on Sheffield Road, joined the church after returning to the UK from a service in Swaziland (now Eswatini) in Southern Africa.

When he learned the church was without pastoral oversight, Ken, when approached, agreed to join the church for two years, but the membership prevailed upon him to stay longer.

After his last service on Sunday, Ken and his wife will return to their home in Scotland.

Ken told the Chronicle he has ‘nothing but gratitude’ for his time spent in Barnsley, and will remember the place and the people with ‘great fondness’.

“It is apparently easier to get into Barnsley than it is to get out of it,” he said.

“When I came to Barnsley, the baptist congregation was very small, and the threat of closure was in the air, but now the congregation is much stronger and a fellowship has evolved, I can look forward to the future with confidence.

“Like every church, the baptist fellowship had to cope with the Covid crisis, but through online ministry and prayers, the fellowship grew, and when the public buildings could reopen, the church emerged stronger than before.

“I have nothing but gratitude in my heart for the time I spent in South Yorkshire and I’ll remember the place and the people with great fondness.”