Sunday 7th June marks the retirement of Tim Schofield, Residentiary Canon and Precentor at Chichester Cathedral.
In this revised article, originally published in the Cathedral Newsletter in March 2020, Tim reflects on his time spent at the Cathedral.
Due to the current circumstances, and in-line with the Government’s guidance, Tim’s retirement service and reception due to take place in June has been postponed, with a revised date to be announced in the near future. In it’s place, on Sunday 7th June The Precentor will mark his last service at the Cathedral online. The service will be streamed on the Cathedral website at 10.00am (and made available to watch afterwards).
On June 7th I will retiring after 14 years in the post of Precentor at the Cathedral. Since arriving in 2006 some of my most satisfying memories are the major services that have been created with my colleagues in the Liturgy and Music Department and the verging team, such as the service to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the Cathedral in 2008, at which Archbishop Rowan presided. More recently the service to commemorate World War One in 2018 was a memorable act of worship around the themes of remembrance, regret, and reconciliation. There have also been the more unusual services as when we celebrated the 75th anniversary of Guide Dogs for the Blind – everything was going well until one of the 100 dogs in the cathedral barked and then all hell broke loose! But Cathedral ministry inevitably involves working across departments and I have especially enjoyed contributing to the GCSE, A Level and Gospel study days. This Cathedral is so fortunate in the quality of its lay staff and I would like to thank them for being such marvellous colleagues.
Living out the daily pattern of worship here has been a deep joy for me. Having been a musician before I was ordained it has been wonderful to share in the world class music that is offered for the glory of God day in, day out – a resource for mission that we should treasure. When I arrived the Sung Eucharist on a Sunday was still a traditional language service and, after leading a Lent Course exploring Common Worship Liturgy, we moved to the modern language rite that is now the norm. In time the Sunday children’s ministry also developed and the Cathedral Pebbles Group was formed which goes from strength to strength. This is almost entirely due to my wife Julie, who has always shared in ministry to children wherever we have been, and her team of young parents.
When I was appointed as Precentor there was also an expectation that I would lead on pastoral care in the Cathedral. I have so valued being able to maintain a priestly ministry whether that has been baptising, taking funerals of much-loved members of the congregation, seeing people for spiritual direction from across the diocese, or leading retreats and quiet days. But the building of relationships has also extended beyond the diocese to our ecumenical partners in Bamberg, Bayreuth and Chartres and I have been part of the Chichester delegation on the last three Coburg Conferences. In the wake of Brexit these European partnerships have never been more important as we witness to the unity we share in Christ which cuts across national boundaries.
The Precentor is, of course, a member of Chapter and involved in the governance of the Cathedral. Over the last 14 years there have been some very challenging times, not least during the year when I was Acting Dean. I received at that time enormous support from my Chapter colleagues and I do want to thank them and all those who have served with me on Chapter. But in the end the administration of the Cathedral, both strategically and operationally, is only there to enable this place to be the spiritual heartbeat of the Diocese; to be a place of vibrant worship and witness to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am more grateful than I can say to have shared in that worship and witness for 14 happy years.
If the Cathedral community wish to leave a message for Tim and his wife Julie, an E-Card is available to sign.
Members of the congregation and Cathedral community will want to express their gratitude to Tim and Julie for their ministry here, and contributions towards a farewell gift can be addressed to Verger Sam Walmsley: Chichester Cathedral, The Royal Chantry, Cathedral Cloisters, Chichester, West Sussex PO191PX