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Outgoing Bishop Dr Stephen Venner mourns loss of flock

Bishop Stephen Venner

Hundreds of people attended a farewell service for Stephen Venner, the outgoing Bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury and Dover.

Dr Venner was delivering his final sermon at Eucharist in the Cathedral on Saturday before he moves to Rochester with his wife Judy to devote himself to being Bishop to the Forces.

Reviewing his ministry the Bishop 'rejoiced’ at the progress made by church communities over recent years, but added, “As I look forward there is still much to do.”

He said: “We must ensure that what goes on in our churches - speaks of God.

“We must also ensure that our lives reflect God’s Spirit.”

Dr Venner became the Bishop in Canterbury and the Bishop of Dover in 1999 and has worked with two Archbioshops, Dr George Carey and Dr Rowan Williams.

His farewell service saw hundreds of people gather to listen to the final sermon as well as sing and pray as they celebrated Eucharist, the re-enactment of the Last Supper when a table of bread and wine is prepared.

Looking back on his decade as Bishop, Dr Venner remembered his earliest days.

He said: “When I started, I was told to lead God’s sheep in Canterbury but I was also told most important of all was to 'just love them’.

“I said 10 years ago that what goes on in our churches must be welcoming, accessible, inclusive and enjoyable. What goes on in them is our shop window.”

As well as Bishop to the Forces, Dr Venner will continue to be Bishop to the Falkland Island, a position he has held since 2003.

His replacement in Canterbury will be the Rt Rev Trevor Wilmott, who takes up the role on New Year’s Day.

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