THE VICAR of Henley is retiring after 33 years.
Rev John Ganjavi – who has served as rector at both St John’s Church in Henley and St Mary’s Church in Ullenhall – is hanging up his cassock after a final service on Christmas Day.
John has been a popular and well respected figure both with his own congregations and non churchgoers. He has worked closely with many local organisations including both Henley schools, as well as serving as Chaplain to the Court Leet.
Before deciding to join the church, he studied at Imperial Collage London and completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering. From there he went on to Ridley Hall, Cambridge to train for ordination and was ordained at Birmingham Cathedral in September 1982.
Prior to taking up his post in Henley and Ullenhall in 1989 he served as curate at both Yardley Church in Birmingham and Knowle Church in Solihull.
John said: “I started my work in Henley and Ullenhall way back in the last century – 1989 to be precise. In those days there was no shortage of volunteers to run the many community activities. Sundays were still quiet days with most shops closed and cohabiting before marriage was not commonplace.
“There were many in our community that had experienced the Great War and WW11 and nostalgic singalongs were very poignant. Times however were changing and the end of the millennium was looming. Technology was on the march and we all had to work hard to keep up with events. An illustration of the changes would be that when I arrived the church notice sheet was printed on an inky Gestetner machine and now we have a church website and youtube services.
“Some things however don’t change. People continue to have pastoral and spiritual needs, and they look to the church to help them mark significant moments in their lives. Baptisms, weddings and funerals are very much in demand.
“Post-pandemic our congregations are very much back to their regular attendance levels and there is an enthusiasm to serve the parish with renewed energy.
“It has been a great privilege to serve Henley and Ullenhall in the style of the old fashioned ‘parson’ – the parish person. My wife Elaine and I will be living just outside Stratford and we look forward to maintaining a presence in the area.
“With extra time on my hands I will still be taking some services in the area whilst also being the glamorous assistant to my dance teaching wife.”
A church spokesman said: “John will be missed for his enthusiasm, dedication and his own unique brand of church leadership, sense of humour, calmness under pressure and incisiveness, which has won him many admirers.
“The church will now enter a “ period of vacancy”, but services and church life will continue as normal lead by lay readers, visiting priests and volunteers until a replacement can be found, a process which could take several months