Villagers say farewell as Pastor Sandy retires
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
EVENWOOD is bidding farewell to the pastor who has served at Cornerstone Christian Centre for almost a decade.
Pastor Sandy Gall arrived in the village in July 2012 and stepped into an environment a world away from his childhood in Scotland.
Most noticeably he was struck by the community’s close family ties. He said: “There were three of four generations of the same family in close proximity of each other. I grew up on a farm in the east coast of Scotland where people moved around out of necessity.”
His working life began with the RAF aged 18, where he started out at what was RAF Catterick, in North Yorkshire.
He went on to serve in Germany, Northern Ireland, Belize, the Falkland Islands and Bosnia.
It was only a little later in life that he found God.
The 66-year-old said: “My mum died when I was 27. I prayed for two things – that it was not the end of her existence and that my father would not be lonely after losing his partner of 40 years. It was as though someone said to me ‘don’t worry’.”
So began his journey to discover the voice that had spoken to him. His contact with the RAF has remained and Pastor Gall continues to perform pastoral duties at RAF Leeming.
He fondly remembered being involved with local schools in Evenwood, in particular the looks on children’s faces when he told them Bible stories.
He said: “Remembrance Day has been a great experience, helping the children understand there is more to remembrance than just wearing a poppy.”
He says he will also look back on the development of a sensory garden in what was a wild area to the rear of the centre. It was started through an initiative of resident Ernie Malt, who is living with dementia.
Pastor Gall said: “It has grown from those first tentative vegetable beds to what it is today.”
Most of all, however, the pastor will miss his congregation. He said: “The people have been exceptionally generous in giving their time and resources to keep Cornerstone going.
“At the start of lockdown there was some concern about how the church might keep going financially.
“Although we have not been able to meet, people found ways to give support. It is not just the financial giving, it is the giving of time and dedication.”
Pastor Gall now plans to take three months off with his wife, Brenda, as he begins his retirement.
He said: “We will spend time in prayer seeking what comes next and also enjoy each other’s company.”