At the recent CMSI staff day away, we were delighted to be joined by Rev Canon Cecil Wilson and his wife Barbara. Cecil, CMSI's former General Secretary, had recently announced his retirement from ordained ministry after 50 years of service. It was a chance for the staff team to celebrate with the Wilsons and hear some of Cecil's reflections.
It was also a joy to be present yesterday at a much bigger celebration for Cecil's ministry. Downpatrick Cathedral was packed with friends old and new representing the many and diverse aspects of Cecil's ministry over the years.
The service was led by Dean Henry Hull, Rector of the Lecale Area Mission Partnership (LAMP) where Cecil has served for the last 5½ years. The morning began with African drumming and singing, from the All Nations' Ministries group. There were Bible readings from Paul Clark (UTV) and Jenny Smyth (CMSI's Mission Director) before Cecil preached. He recalled some of his remarkable experiences in various parts of the world through the work of CMSI, and how he frequently felt unequal to the task - having to rely on God’s help and the support of others.
Dean Hull then invited Cecil and Barbara to the front as he gave testimony to the energy, care and creativity Cecil has shown in Lecale Partnership, plus the wide influence he exerted through his many years with CMSI, and also the commitment and support given by Barbara throughout. The couple were then presented with gifts from the Partnership, after which there was communion and a beautiful anthem sung by the cathedral choir.
After the service all were invited down to the parish hall for lunch and further tributes given by representatives of the LAMP group, including CMSI Chairperson Rev Adrian Dorrian and Dean Hull. Finally a celebration cake was cut by Cecil and Barbara.
One of the many global partners with whom Cecil had collaborated during his time with CMSI - Tirtha Thapa of HDCS, Nepal – sent in the following tribute, which sums up the feelings of many others,
Warm greetings from Nepal and whole family of HDCS!... Cecil, you know that you have friends all over the world and that you have had a wonderful impact on each one of us. You made a huge contribution to many countries in Asia and Africa. You are like a role model to many of us. We have learned a lot from your exemplary lifestyle, your heart for the poor and needy people. Your commitment to the ministry, your faith and the service to the Lord inspired many people who learned from you how to walk with the Lord in faith and service.
Along with Barbara you have won the hearts of the people in Asia, Africa and Europe. You have a worldwide family to shout to the Lord for His grace upon you.
Thank you Cecil and Barbara for your exemplary life and deeds!