Annual service for retired clergy highlights the importance of their work

On 4th July we were delighted to welcome all our retired clergy, clergy widows and widowers to their annual service in Peterborough Cathedral.  As well as giving an opportunity to come together to share the Eucharist, the service is also a time to give thanks for the extraordinary work that our retired clergy undertake in many different forms of ministry.

The service was led by the Ven David Painter, a former Archdeacon of Oakham and the address was given by the Ven Fiona Windsor, also a retired Archdeacon, from the Chichester Diocese.  Fiona spoke about the Gospel reading, likening it to the storms encountered throughout ministry, many of which you have no way of knowing are approaching.  But, all can be overcome, because like the disciples in the boat, you will get to the other side because Jesus is with us always, even if sometimes we have little faith.

The Venerable Fiona Windsor

Fiona also spoke of the immense amount of hard work that retired clergy do, and how grateful we are for their service, ‘you all deserve medals’ she said. 

As for her own retirement Fiona later reflected on the joy she finds in being back involved in parish ministry, following her years as an Archdeacon; ‘it’s great to be back involved in parish ministry again, especially weddings, and meeting people organising funerals when they are at their lowest’. You never stop being a priest and you’re always a Christian, so if nothing else ‘we can all listen and we can all pray with someone or for someone’.

Fiona also spoke about how those who are retired can help bring joy and encouragement to parishes in vacancy when they are asked to step in to lead services.  ‘It’s lovely to be able to help out’, she said, ‘but its important to spend time with your family. They have lived through the years of sharing their loved one with the community, sharing their home and their space. Retirement is the time to be able to go away, spend time with friends and family.’ 

The Revd Canon Tony Lynett meanwhile has returned to a previous ministry as a chaplain in the prison service during his retirement. Tony, who serves as part of a multi-faith team at Five Wells Prison, felt the call to return to chaplaincy, a role he had undertaken before serving as the Vicar
of All Saints Church with All Hallows in Wellingborough. ‘Its meeting people at their lowest ebb’ he said, ‘ and seeing where our faith can help meet the real needs of people’. He enjoys working in a multi faith team, helping to reach out to those of all faiths and increasingly those with none. Having always had a heart for interfaith work, Tony says ‘I find that if you dig deep enough in any one place, you will all arrive in every place’.

Revd Canon Adrian Holdstock

The experiences of retired clergy are so important in supporting others through the course of their ministry as they have often seen similar situations arise.  Many spoke of the support they had received and they were now giving back in their retirement. The Revd Adrian Holdstock continues to use his experiences both in parish ministry and as a former Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands to train curates. He particularly likes taking part in the Curate theological reflection days, as well as the Diocesan Explore Days which show people the different ways they can get involved in ministry.  

Retirement gives a different focus, he says, ‘you get the chance to press the pause button and be reflective. You can share memories, wisdom and encouragement. You have been there, you have been that busy vicar. But now is time to be kind to yourself and in that comes more focus and less pressure when training or supporting others, you can be more in the moment.’

Revd Jenny Parkin

This is something that the Revd Jenny Parkin also finds.  ‘Within the desire to continue serving, it is important to find your own path,’ says Jenny.  “And to feel able to say no sometimes to make space for family and for your own spiritual growth.  Alongside her experience of hospice chaplaincy and parish ministry, Jenny fulfilled various roles for the Diocese which involved one to one ministry.   After retirement she felt called to train as a Spiritual Director and accompanies individuals on their own spiritual journey. She also enjoys being actively involved in her parish church.

It was a joy to share worship and fellowship with all our retired clergy, widows and widowers. We thank you for all the work you continue to do to serve the parishes and communities of the Diocese. 

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