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Thanks for the Abbey memories

by Michael Ford last modified 31 Jan, 2020 04:11 PM

Sherborne Abbey's Rector is retiring after 27 years in post.

Thanks for the Abbey memories

Canon Eric at Bishop Karen's welcome to Sherborne, with Bishop Nicholas. Original photo by Gerry Lynch

Canon Eric Woods will take his final service on Easter Sunday before retiring to Sturminster Newton with his wife Sandra.

The following announcement was made by, or on behalf of, Eric in all the churches of the Sherborne Team Ministry last Sunday the 27 January 2020:

Dear Friends

It is with very mixed emotions that I am announcing today, at every service across the Benefice, my retirement as the Rector of the Sherborne Team Ministry.

Two weeks ago I turned 69, and the official retirement age for stipendiary clergy is 70. Ten days ago Sandra and I completed on the purchase of a very pleasant house in Sturminster Newton, just 12 miles away.

Knowing that these landmark events were shortly to happen, I was in conversation before Christmas with the Bishop of Salisbury. He and I agreed that the ideal day for my last Sunday with you, and the termination of my official duties, would be Easter Day, Sunday 12 April. On what better day could a priest hope to retire than the most important day in the Christian calendar, the Day of Resurrection?

Bishop Nicholas has generously agreed that Sandra and I might remain at the Vicarage until we have completed the second of the parish pilgrimages to Oberammergau and the Passion Play, from which our group will return on 8 July. However, in practice we hope to have moved from the Vicarage by the end of May.

This means that I will have been your Incumbent for some 27 years (though at Longburton officially only since 2006). The Benefice – and especially, of course, the Abbey – has therefore been my life for over a quarter of a century. I regard myself as hugely privileged to have ministered here for so long. Equally, I am very conscious of the debt I owe to my colleagues, ordained and lay, down the years. But the time for expressions of gratitude is not yet.

Suffice it to say that leaving Sherborne will be a huge wrench for both of us. Sandra and I hope you will pray for us over the coming weeks, just as we will be praying for you all.

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