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First woman priest in charge of Romney Marsh Reverend Julie Coleman prepares for final service

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

The first woman priest in charge of Romney Marsh is set to give her final service at the weekend following a 'rollercoaster ministry'.

Reverend Julie Coleman is leaving the Romney Marsh Benefice, made up of eight parishes, after four years in the role.

Ahead of her final service this weekend, the Anglican priest reflected on her time supporting members of the congregation: "I have been privileged to have been invited into the lives of many people on the Marsh.

The Reverend Julie Coleman vowed to wear a black cassock daily until the first anniversary of the Manchester bombing
The Reverend Julie Coleman vowed to wear a black cassock daily until the first anniversary of the Manchester bombing

"I have shared their joys, their pain and their hopes. I have seen some born and many die.

"I’ve celebrated at the marriage of numerous couples and baptised quite a few of their children. We have hugged and laughed and cried together.

"I’ve been covered in paint during Messy Church and encouraged to ride a smoothie bike to raise money for charity in my cassock."

Rev. Coleman previously hit the headlines during the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, when she vowed to wear her full uniform - a black cassock - every day until the first anniversary of the atrocity.

At the time, she said: “It is really personal to me as I have some really good friends in Manchester, including Muslims.

"The black cassock is my uniform. It is the same as Muslims having theirs; diversity makes us human."

It was also reported earlier this year that human ashes had mysteriously appeared inside the church of Saint Mary in the Marsh.

The Rev. of St Peter and St Pauls church, Julie Coleman at Day of Syn. Picture: Tony Flashman
The Rev. of St Peter and St Pauls church, Julie Coleman at Day of Syn. Picture: Tony Flashman

Alongside church warden Bill Caudwell, she launched an appeal through this newspaper help identify the woman who died, which successfully resulted in a family member coming forward.

She continued: "The Bible talks a lot about 'hard goodbyes' - and for me this will be a hard goodbye to the parishes, as I have come to love them in Christ.

"Sunday's service will hopefully reflect my rollercoaster ministry here as the first woman priest in charge over the past four years and the diverse communities I am part of.

"I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement."

The Ven Darren Miller, Archdeacon of Ashford, said: "It is with great sadness that we’ll wave goodbye to Julie.

"Her generous ministry in such a complicated and diverse community will undoubtedly be missed.

"Julie and her family will be in our prayers as they set off on their next adventure together.”

Rev. Coleman has been offered a post as a vicar outside of the Marsh.

She explained that the Benefice will go into an interregnum while the eight parochial church councils, along with the Archdeacon and area Dean, put together a profile to advertise her former post.

Rev. Coleman's last service will be this Sunday (October 14) at 10.30am at St Nicholas Church, in Church Lane, New Romney. The Rev. added that the service will involve cake, music, Marsh schoolchildren and 'Jesus Christ at the centre'.

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