My very dear friends This is the last opportunity I have to write to you as your Rector. By next Sunday I will have ceased to hold that dear and honourable position. My tenure – my Licence – expires on Tuesday of this week, and the Archdeacon has made it very clear that from that date I must take no further part in the life of the Abbey, or of the wider Benefice.
This is the Church of England way, and its protocol for many years. There is a great deal of sense in putting space between the outgoing Incumbent and his or her successor. That is why I am not allowed to retire within the Benefice. Although we will miss Sherborne terribly, we have found a lovely house in Sturminster Newton, and will move there as soon as the carpets we have ordered have been woven, and delivered and fitted. That delay has been something of a frustration!
The Archdeacon – The Venerable Penny Sayer – has told the Parish Secretary that, as Archdeacon, she will be writing this column next week. I am glad of that, as Archdeacon Penny will be able to explain the process of appointing my successor, and what happens in the interim – during the “Interregnum”. It is not a simple, nor a short, process. But it is important to take time to make the right appointment.
My successor will need to be someone who can build on what has been achieved over the last 27 years, but can equally see what has been neglected or overlooked. I believe that long incumbencies can be hugely beneficial, but there comes a point when the Incumbent can no longer see what needs to be done! So change is inevitable. Please don’t fight it when it comes. We will be living in a very different world post-COVID-19, and will all have to learn new ways of being the Church.
You have all been extremely generous in your kindnesses to Sandra and to me over the years, and not least in gifts and presentations in the last few weeks. The latest was a lovely visit for “garden drinks” from Churchwardens past and present, and the PCC Treasurer, from St Martin of Tours, Lillington – with a most generous presentation. For all this gracious kindness, we are profoundly grateful. I am only sorry that I cannot reply personally to every card, letter and gift!
I must take this last opportunity to thank all my colleagues, lay and ordained, for their loyalty, support and dedication over the years. I must also thank each and every one of you reading this for all that you have done for our benefice and its churches, for all that you mean to me, and for all your generosity. I also remember all those dear souls who have been my parishioners and friends over the years, and who are now at rest. I thank God for them, as I thank Him for you.
It has been the most wonderful blessing to be your Incumbent for so long. As Sandra and I prepare to leave Sherborne, please remember that you will be in our thoughts and our prayers for the rest of our lives.
For the last time – from your Friend and Rector
With every blessing
With my blessing and love, as always