A CELEBRATION was held by the Bishop of Burnley to mark 40 “wonderful” years of ministry.
The Rt Rev. John Goddard, who has been head of the church in Burnley for a decade, was joined by friends, family and former colleagues at a special service in Tarleton.
Bishop John, who has been instrumental in helping heal Burnley communities in the wake of the 2001 disturbances, reflected on a rich and fulfilling career.
He said: “It has been a wonderful 40 years. There has been considerable changes in that period in the way the church works with communities and within communities.
“When I look back it has been a life of challenges, opportunities and difficulties faced but the welcome I have received everywhere has been absolutely lovely.”
Bishop John, who was ordained in 1971, said he only ever wanted to be a priest after seeing his father, who was also a priest, give his shoes and coat away to a needy man during a storm.
He worked in some of the poorest areas of the UK including Middlesbrough’s infamous South Bank which saw unemployment levels of up to 90% .
His work also took him the deprived estates of Scarborough and Ribbleton near Preston and he even became the vice-president of the Edinburgh Theological College for a time.
The Rt Rev. Goddard, his wife Vivienne and children Gareth and Michael, then came to Burnley just before the riots in the Summer of 2001 when he was appointed the bishop of the town.
He has been one of the leading proponents of social cohesion on the town putting the church at the centre of the Building Bridges project.
“I’m excited by ministry all the time. It has been an opportunity to share people’s deep moments in worship at times of death and bereavement, birth and joy. It is so wonderful and fulfilling. It has been a privilege to share people’s lives. I look forward to many more years to come.”