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Some words from the Rector's Retirement Service

If you were unable to attend Alan's retirement service, here are some words from Oliver's & Wil's speech:

First of all, thank you all so much for being here.  I know it means a great deal to Alan, Suzanne and their family to see how many people his ministry has touched here at St Giles.

I must admit that it is not an easy task putting into words our gratitude and appreciation for the service Alan has given to St Giles over the past decade…and that is clearly not because it is hard to see the impact he has made.

No. The real challenge is that we at St Giles have become very used to Alan being the person who finds the right words for us.  His gifts as a preacher and writer have framed so much of how we think about what it means to be a church in this place, that it is hard to imagine how we will find the right words to talk about our mission as a church after he has left.

While I am certainly not going to try to do that now, we cannot allow this opportunity to pass without at least an attempt to encapsulate the many special qualities that Alan has brought to his time here at St Giles. Since arriving in 2010, first as associate rector and latterly as rector, Alan has done so much to enliven the spiritual life of our community through his unobtrusive ability to connect with people at an individual level and because he has divined something special about the spirituality of this place - and taught us both to feel encouraged in our faith and to have the courage to encourage others.

Characteristically, perhaps, this is a subtle and understated approach Christian mission but in his ministry here, Alan shown us something fundamental about what it means to be a Christian in the centre of this great city.  Alan is not someone for whom the term “self-promotion” has any meaning, but as a promoter and champion of others, he has shown a rare gift for seeing people as they truly are and embracing their humanity. 

For those who have sought his counsel over the years, those who have benefitted from his pastoral care in times of difficulty and loss, and perhaps especially for those who have come to know him in his role as Director of Ordinands while seeking to discern their own calling to ministry, Alan has been a wise counsellor, a thoughtful friend and a source of profound strength.

Speaking personally – and I suspect many of you will agree with this feeling – I know I have not yet fully absorbed how much of a gap Alan’s retirement is going to create for our community here at St Giles.  And as if this loss were not enough, we also must bid farewell to Suzanne, who has become such a good friend to so many of us here at St Giles, as well as Naomi, who has become so important to our community, and the entire Carr family.  It cannot always be easy to be the family of a parish priest but our appreciation to you for the sacrifices you have made and for the love and support you have given Alan is enormous.

So it is impossible not to feel a little sad on such an occasion.  Yet, how can we really feel anything other than encouraged to have benefitted from all of Alan’s many gifts over these past years?  And the greatest gift of all is that Alan leaves us with confidence, with a clear sense of our mission and with the gift of faith, which we have been so lucky to share with him.


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