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Sunderland: provost retires to focus on poverty work

One of the city's church leaders is taking early phased retirement to focus on community projects ...

The Revd Canon Sheila Bamber, Provost of Sunderland Minster has announced that she will be taking early phased retirement in order to put more emphasis on her work on several high impact community projects.

Canon Bamber (right) said: ““For some months now I have been thinking and praying about what God is asking of me in the last years of my active ministry. I am already sure that I would like to give more time to the things that brought me to the North East originally – you will have heard me talk about my role as a door to door rent collector being ‘the best job’ ever, and so I would like to find more time for issues around poverty in all its forms, and for supporting leadership in all our communities.

“I am mindful that this is a key time in the life of the Minster, as we are looking with others at the shape of mission and ministry over the next 5-10 years. In the light of all this, I feel that this is the moment to step down from stipendiary (paid) ministry and allow time to find a successor to lead the Minster into the next period of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to Sunderland.

“For me, this is the beginning of a phased retirement plan, when I will serve the church and community as a self supporting minister for a few years, and also develop my interests with Communities Together Durham and Citizens UK.

The Rt Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow said: “Sheila, will be an immense loss to the Minster and to wider Sunderland. In the time she has been Provost she has worked tirelessly to develop ways in which the Minster can relate to the whole of Sunderland. There have been deeply memorable services involving many members of the community. It was the first place that Archbishop Justin Justin Welby came after he was announced as Archbishop of Canterbury – to take part in one of the initiatives Sheila championed along with the City Council and Sunderland Churches focused on food poverty.

“I know that Sheila has been thinking and praying hard in recent months about the best way for her to serve the church and community in the North East in the remaining years before she retires. Moving on is in many ways a brave and courageous decision and I know that I and I am certain many others wish her well for all that lies ahead.”

Canon Bamber became Provost of Sunderland Minster in 2012 before that she was a residentiary canon of Newcastle Cathedral after holding several senior appointments in the Diocese of Durham.

PHOTO: Keith Blundy

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