Cathedral community bids farewell to the Very Reverend Stephen Waine

23rd Jan 2023
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On Sunday 22nd January Chichester Cathedral's community joined together to give thanks to the Very Reverend Stephen Waine, his wife Lizzie and their family, as they embark on a new journey within the Diocese of Salisbury.

After seven years of service in Sussex, Stephen is to become the vicar of the benefice of Piddle Valley, Hilton and Ansty, Cheselbourne and Melcombe Horsey.

During the service many shared their memories of working alongside Stephen, including the Cathedral's Clerk of Works Tony Allen on behalf of the staff team, and the Bishop of Chichester, The Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, on behalf of the Diocese of Chichester.

Stephen's final sermon at the Cathedral is available to watch, or read, below.

'Jesus said to Simon and to Andrew: follow me, follow me. 

In the year 1966 The Kinks recorded a song called 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion'. It was a song which poked fun at the swinging sixties and Carnaby Street and all that, by calling into question the superficiality of a life which is defined simply by the latest trends and fashions. 

'They seek him here' the song begins 'they seek him there his clothes are loud but never square it will make him or break him so he's got to buy the best because he's a dedicated follower of fashion'. 

The last verse of the song says 'he flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly in matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be 'cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion'. The song challenges the idea that we are what we wear. Whereas Ray Davies who wrote the song believed that clothing shouldn't define us and we don't have to conform. 

He said 'you decide what you want to be, and you just walk down the street. And if you're good the world will change as you walk past, the world will change as you walk past'. When Jesus invited Simon and Andrew, and then James and John to follow him, he was not inviting them to the latest trend or a momentary fashion adopted in the hope of impressing others. Neither was he inviting them simply to plod along behind him as a small entourage of passive supporters. Rather, he was inviting them to accompany him on an adventure. An adventure which would turn their lives on their heads and the life of the whole world on its head with the promise, the promise that the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven has come near. 

They were not to become simply followers but disciples. In the early days, and we heard the very earliest day described just now in the Gospel passage, in the early days they would watch Jesus and they would listen to him, they'd ask him questions, they'd watch how he interacted with people. The disciples would get things wrong, they would misunderstand Jesus and then they would ask yet more questions. 

And all of this was part of their learning, part of their formation, part of their learning to follow him, follow him as disciples. 

The biblical scholar Paula Gooder wrote a book  -'Let Me Go There' - and it offers some insight on what that might mean in practise. She writes 'Jesus' call (to follow is a call) to learning. Making (the disciples) fish for people implies a level of training - but it is learning with an active outcome. This begs the question of what fishing for people entails. She concludes that the disciples are to bring people to a moment of decision when they and God decide who they really are. 

She writes 'the learning of discipleship is learning for action. It's all too easy to see learning as being for our own benefit to make us better people. This is not what Jesus summoned. Simon, Peter and Andrew too. Jesus summoned them to action for the kingdom to join him in proclaiming repentance and the forgiveness of sins, and to bring people to a crucial moment of decision.' 

Sometimes we are reluctant to do this. We find it embarrassing to talk about repentance and forgiveness of sins. We find it embarrassing even to talk about God himself. Or perhaps we just feel ill-equipped, or we feel ridicule or rejection, or we assume that people don't want to hear. I'm not sure that's true. 

I once heard a priest talking about his experience of being a hospital chaplain in Scotland amongst people with HIV and AIDS. He told a story, in a sense, against himself, and so I don't feel too bad about repeating it. He visited a young man on the hospital ward one day and talked about the weather and about what he'd seen on television. And he'd just begun to talk about football when the young man with HIV and AIDS interrupted him. And he said, Reverend, I have 26 doctors and consultants who visit me because of my illness. So why do you want to talk about football?  

Just like all the others, the young man was thirsty for a conversation about God, about suffering, about what it all means, thirsty to understand his own situation, and the chaplain offered a conversation about football. People often want to engage with the things of God, but we don't know how to engage with them, or assume that actually what they're asking for is not what they really want. 

As I reach the end of my ministry here as Dean, I can look back and reflect not only on eight years of ministry here, but eight years in the life of this Cathedral. I am certain that one of the vital roles that cathedrals play is to be a place where the first questions about faith can be asked and taken seriously. Where there are no barriers which inhibit, where the first steps of following Jesus can be taken when people feel ready to take them. The choral music tradition is such an important part of this. I know from experience that to invite people to Choral Evensong is to invite them to experience something of the wonder of the presence of God, to whom worship is offered day in and day out in this place. And when they've experienced Choral Evensong, always, always they make appreciative comments, 

Often they're surprised that what they've just experienced isn't a special occasion, but just what we do. It's the daily work of prayer and praise and devotion. That daily worship offered here is a powerful witness, and it speaks to people and invites them it invites them to come and see to come and see the mystery at the heart of our Christian faith, at the heart of the world, at the heart of the universe. Christopher Jamson, who was a former Abbot of Worth, he tells a story about a young journalist who visited Worth Abbey with a view to writing a feature article about the monastic life. The article was never published, but a year later, the journalist was seriously ill in hospital. After he recovered, he wrote he wrote to the Abbey and said, 'as I lay close to death, all I could think about was you monks in church praying every morning and every evening. That gave me courage and somehow your praying saved me.' The power of the daily rhythm of prayer and of worship. 

After eight years, Lizzie and I are called to a new place and new ministry in Dorset. Lizzie has been the most tremendous support to me and to the Cathedral and no doubt will continue to support the ministry in the parishes which I'm going to be the Vicar. Much of what she has done has been unseen and unacknowledged, but nevertheless, vital to the work of the Cathedral, and we have been supported here by the most fantastic staff team, and it's great to see so many of the staff team here this morning who have really, really done great things. The Cathedral is very different from the one to which I came eight years ago and that's in no small part thanks to them. 

It's been a very exciting journey and the purpose of the Cathedral remains to be a place where people can be offered the chance to know, the chance to know more about Jesus and to want to follow him. St Richard of Chichester, our patron, who gave the world a very well known prayer, gives us in that prayer both a route map to discipleship and the words to inspire us on our journey. So, as we join our prayers with his and with the whole company of heaven, we pray that we may know Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly. Amen.'

Tony, Clerk of Works, gives a speech about Dean Stephen & Lizzie
Dean Stephen gives his final sermon
Bishop Martin Warner blesses Dean Stephen and Lizzie
The Cathedral staff team
Dean Stephen receives a round of applause
23rd Jan 2023
News category