Parishioners and the family of a vicar celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordainment on Sunday (June 5).
The Right Reverend Nicholas Reade, retired Bishop of Blackburn, conducted the service at St Mary’s Salehurst for Father Christopher Channer.
More than 180 people, including Fr Christopher’s son Rory, who flew over from the USA, filled the ancient church, which was decorated with golden-themed flowers arranged by the St Mary’s flower arrangers. Hymns selected by Fr Christopher were sung, which had patriotic themes, such as Land of Hope and Glory.
The final hymn was composed by Fr Christopher himself, as was the special Gloria tune, sung during the service and accompanied on the flute by Vinehall School pupil, Madeleine Lyndsay.
Fr Christopher said: “The service went extremely well, the weather was brilliant and the church looked spectacular with the floral arrangements.”
Linda Thompson, secretary of St Mary’s parochial church council (PCC), said: “We organised and held a celebration lunch following the service as a way of thanking and recognising the huge contribution retired vicar Fr Christopher has made to the parish over the past 19 months since he agreed to stand in and take all our services when our vicar left us in October 2014. The parish was facing a grim future when he came out of retirement and took over, but with his wonderful services and superb ministry combined with a really massive effort by the PCC and parishioners to increase the congregation and to raise substantial sums of money, Chichester Diocese recognised these efforts with agreeing to look for a new vicar for the parish. A new vicar will be appointed later in the summer.”
Fr Christopher was ordained at Canterbury Cathedral on June 5, 1966 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, The Lord Ramsay of Canterbury. Fr Christopher went on to minister in many churches in Kent and East Sussex including being chaplain of Holmeswood House, Rochester and later rector of St Michael’s Church, Lewes where he worked alongside The Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, who was then Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings.
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