A Fond Farewell

This is the last magazine resource that I expect to write before my farewell service, which is due to be Evensong at the Cathedral on Sunday 31 October at 3.30 pm. Necessary precautions permitting, I hope that will be an occa-sion when I might be able to see many of you in person, in a way that has not been possible recently. 

The life of an archdeacon can be some-what relentless (as, I hasten to recognise, can many other roles) and I have been conscious of diminishing stamina over the past couple of years – and I no longer look exactly as I did in the 2012 photo that accompanies this letter – so it therefore seemed appropriate that, in this year in which I have become a pensioner, I should step aside and see the baton pass to someone younger (presumably!). 

Having made that decision some time ago, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that I will miss my role enormously. 

Maria and I came to this diocese from London in 1994, first on my appointment as vicar of St Alban’s, Northampton, where our son and daughter, Andrew and Elizabeth, were born. From there we moved to Peterborough in 2001, where I served first as vicar of the city centre parish of St John the Baptist, before I became archdeacon of the north-eastern half of the diocese in 2012. Just as it was a great honour to serve in those two parishes, so too has it been to serve as an archdeacon for the final stage of my stipendiary ministry. I have greatly enjoyed the visits I have been able to make over those years to so many of the 170 parishes in the archdeaconry, whether on Sundays or during the week, and grateful for the warm welcomes I have received. The pandemic has made for a very odd final year and more, doing virtually everything from my desk, with meetings and interviews on zoom rather than in the parishes. 

As we enter what we hope will be a sustained period of greater normality, we thank God for one another, for the mutual support and cooperation that we have experienced and witnessed across the diocese and, indeed, throughout this land. We express our great gratitude to all who have been seeing us through this crisis, not least the staff of the NHS, and we pray for all for whom this has been a particularly difficult or sad time, and for the many countries in the world that lack the considerable benefits which we enjoy. 

Above all, let us continue to put our whole trust in God and seek to ever deepen our relationship with him, that we may be alert and responsive to his promptings, in all that he calls us to be and to do in the years ahead, whatever our circumstances. May he richly bless you as you continue onwards on your journey of Christian discipleship – in worship, witness and service. 

With my prayers and very best wishes 

Gordon Steele, Archdeacon of Oakham 

The Palace, Peterborough PE1 1YB