Hundreds gathered in the Cathedral yesterday evening to say farewell and thank you to Archdeacon Robert Jones at a special Evensong to mark his retirement.
The service was beautifully sung by the boy choristers and lower voices of the cathedral choir and included readings by Robert’s partner, Mike Elden who read from Micah and churchwarden Rachel Chalmers who read from Mark’s Gospel. Prayers were led by the Archdeacon of Dudley, Nikki Groarke.
Robert himself preached at the service, reflecting on the fact that the two readings offered good mission statements that we could all follow – ‘love God, love neighbour and love self’ and ‘what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God’.
He said: “Jesus shows us that each of us is ‘I am what I am, I am God’s special creation!’ (To paraphrase Gloria Gaynor!) That’s the good news that so many of us want to hear – we are loved and loveable because are made in the image of God. However, we only exist in relation to others and loving our neighbours is not just about being kind, but about wanting the best for them. Jesus says we should also love those that we find it hard to love, love our enemies. Then the big picture is that we only love God because God first loved us – it is our response to his great love for you and me. And what would the world look like if we were to follow the words in Micah – if we were all as humble as the God who was born in a borrowed stable.”
At the end of the service, there were short speeches from Cathedral Interim Dean, Stephen Edwards, Roman Catholic Priest, Brian McGinley, Area Dean of Worcester, Diane Cooksey, Eckart Warner from the Protestant Church of Central Germany (EKM) and Bishop John. Robert and Mike were presented with a cherry tree for the garden in their new home (they will also receive a cheque with donations from people across the Diocese).
Robert expressed his thanks to all those who were present for nurturing and encouraging him through his many years as a priest. He concluded by saying: “Thanks be to God and thanks be to all of you!”
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