Choral Evensong for the feast of Michael and All Angels on Saturday 1st October was the occasion to say farewell to the Very Revd Charles Taylor and his wife Catherine after nine and a half years in Peterborough.
The farewell service was a moving occasion attended by many from across the Diocese, the City of Peterborough and the Cathedral community, as well as those from further afield including The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York and Chair of the Deans’ Conference.
With typical humour, and just as he had done at the very start of his ministry in Peterborough, the Dean incorporated into his sermon a Black Country “Aynuk and Ayli” joke, for the benefit of those visiting from Staffordshire (too complicated to explain, but with a footballing theme which any POSH supporters present would have fully understood).
In his address, which received a spontaneous standing ovation, the Dean reflected on his departure from Peterborough, taking up the Old Testament reading from Genesis 28:10-17 and concluding that “every patch of ground is potentially holy ground; even the floor of the wilderness”.
He highlighted the strong links being built between the Cathedral and the wider community and how the Peterborough 900 projects and those who supported them were helping to forge those links. He said it was significant that the Cathedral now had 100 or more corporate partners who recognised "the role that such an iconic place as this can play in promoting economic regeneration and social cohesion."
Towards the end of the service the Dean ceremonially removed his Decanal Cope and handed it to the Canon Missioner, Jonathan Baker, who Bishop Donald has asked to become Acting Dean until a new appointment is made.
At a reception following the service presentations were made and tributes paid by Bishop Donald, Gillian Beasley (Chief Executive of Peterborough City Council) and Canon Jonathan Baker on behalf the Cathedral Chapter and Cathedral congregation.
Bishop Donald said that other bishops were often amazed when he told them about Charles’s constructive and hospitable approach towards the bishop and the diocese. He paid tribute to Charles’s wisdom, goodness and humour as part of the diocesan senior management team, and to the genuineness of his welcome to all who came to events and services at the Cathedral.
Gillian Beasley, in a message read by Canon Ian Black due to her attendance elsewhere at a fostercarers' awards ceremony, applauded his work in both social cohesion and the cultural life of the city, saying that his visionary leadership had left and indelible mark.
Canon Baker spoke of the Dean's tremendous achievements in Peterborough, and also of Charles and Catherine’s effectiveness as a pastoral team, their hospitality and Charles’s sense of humour in all circumstances.
Amongst the gifts given to Charles and Catherine were a magnificent picture of the ceiling of the Apse Chapel from the Cathedral Chapter, a clock from the Bishop's senior management team, a laptop computer and a cheque collected by well wishers from the congregation and across the diocese.
Charles Taylor will now become Dean Emeritus of Peterborough. The process of selecting a new Dean is likely to begin in the new year.