The Rev'd Steve Varney
The Rev'd Steve Varney served as Vicar at St. Mark's Bromley from 1999 to 2019.
Under his leadership the church forecourt was opened towards the street and the church garden completely renovated.
The Reverend Stephen Varney: A Tribute - On His Retirement.
The time has come to say good-bye to our dear Vicar, Steve.
He has graced this church for twenty years; we thought he’d never leave!
Much aided and abetted by Joanna, his dear wife,
He has been a splendid Vicar, and the hub of parish life.
He was Chairman of the Governors of our own Parish School,
Where he inspired the teachers; and the children thought him cool.
He is Chaplain of Bromley Police Station, which is why it has been suggested,
That, in all his years as the Vicar here, he has never been arrested.
He has preached so many sermons that we’ve long ago lost count,
And each seemed at least twice as long as the Sermon on the Mount.
And here's another funny thing not everybody knows,
That when Steve preaches sermons, he stands on his tiptoes,
And sways from side to side to mesmerise his congregation.
He learned that from a snake charmer in some distant Eastern nation.
He’s devoted to theology books and carries them about.
But does he ever read them? ‘Tis a matter of some doubt.
Now, when it comes to singing, although Steve’s voice is strong,
And whilst he’s neither sharp nor flat, his notes are always wrong.
Expelled from College singing class because he was tone deaf,
Causing chaos and confusion throughout the tenor clef.
Joanna, his long suffering spouse, has everything it takes,
To be the ideal Vicar’s wife; she bakes some wondrous cakes!
A teacher in our Sunday School, she has tried for twenty years
To inculcate the Word of God into her little dears.
And now, she will be leaving too; she is the Special One.
We just don’t know how we will do without her when she’s gone.
If Steve can be quite stubborn, then so, of course, can Jo.
If they have a disagreement, then it can be touch and go.
There was a time, their daughter says, when they just did not speak
And maintained a godly silence, which lasted a whole week!
My sources for this epic ode were Roger, Pat and Ruth.
I only hope the darling girl’s been telling the whole truth!
Soon, Ruth will be a doctor, she has reached the final stage,
And then can cure the aches and pains of Jo’s and Steve’s old age.
Steve can be prone to road rage, as many clergy are,
And shouts out comminations at every Catholic car.
He does his parish visiting on his old faithful bike,
And gives his flock a priestly wave, to young and old alike.
His flock are very fond of him, and so, they all shout back.
‘There’s Reverend Bradley Wiggins! There goes the Man in Black!’
Steve is our holy handyman and always takes great pains
When polishing our holy floor and rodding all our drains.
He could now start a drainage business and call himself‘ Dyno-Rod Steve’,
And, with his trusty tool box, there’s little he cannot achieve.
He fixes broken door handles and mends disabled chairs.
He has saved the church a fortune in its budget for repairs.
But, he does have one great weakness; he is very scared of heights.
He will not go near a ladder to fix the churches lights.
Not many people know this, but I can now impart,
That Steve is a closet rocker, and a bit of a raver at heart.
He loves to play his air guitar, a hair-raising sight to see!
To Deep Purple and Joe Bonamassa, and especially to AC/DC.
One thing is odd; for a man of God, you would think that he would, at least
Enjoy bands like Black Sabbath, The Damned and Judas Priest.
Now, Steve’s favourite hymn of all time; he thinks it sounds divine.
It’s happy and it’s clappy and it’s called ‘Shine Jesus Shine!’
Steve’s been kind to all four curates; at least that’s what he says,
And trained them all, according to the Church of England’s ways.
As Beth will doubtless testify, Steve will be such a loss.
She says she could not wish for a more charismatic boss.
He’s employed three able organists, of varying moods and styles.
We have to say, as he’s playing today, Ralf is the best by miles!
But, when it comes to choirmasters, there has been just the one,
As Steve and Andrew Wilson surprisingly get on!
Steve’s favourite tipple, beyond doubt, is lots of Grant’s Scotch Whisky.
Jo tries to hide the bottle, as it makes him very frisky.
Yes, when he’s supping down his Grant’s, Steve is a happy man.
His flock give him bottles for Christmas, and he savours every dram.
He also loves real ale, like Beth, and down he likes to gulp it.
You wouldn’t think he drank at all, when you see him in the pulpit.
Steve is always very hungry and for supper, he can’t wait,
So he gorges Mini-Cheddars, by the packet, by the plate.
When supper arrives at six-thirty prompt, he consumes all that as well,
But never puts on any weight, as far as one can tell.
Amongst his great achievements here, too numerous to be told;
He has bought us a new boiler, when we were feeling cold.
He’s transformed the churchyard gardens; more welcoming to be,
Where we can sing our hymns with Pimm’s beneath the old oak tree.
And Steve was very active with the plans for St. Mark’s Square.
Which may not be quite Venice but improves on what was there.
They’ve named a block of flats for him and called them ‘Varney Court’.
Thus, Steve will be remembered for much longer than he thought.
There are not too many Vicars, according to the stats.
Who achieve commemoration in a block of modern flats.
Steve, as a caring parish priest; he is the best - bar none.
He knows all his parishioners; has time for everyone.
He’s hatched them, and he’s matched them, then dispatched them in good style,
All in a reverend manner with his apostolic smile.
And now, he is ditching his old dog collar and casting off his cope;
And pawning all his cassocks. Well, we shall just have to hope
That we will get another one, as diligent as he.
We pray we may be lucky. We will just have to see.
Farewell to the Family Varney; Steve, Joanna, Ruth and Tom.
All we can do is thank you, before you all move on.
When, next the snow lays round about; and is deep and crisp and even,
We know whom we’ll remember, upon the Feast of Stephen.
Malcolm Brown. March 2019