Leading Black Country clergy member announces retirement after four decades of service
One of the leading figures in Black Country ministry has announced his retirement after four decades of service.
The archdeacon of Walsall, the venerable Julian Francis, has announced that he is retiring from stipendiary ministry this spring, with his last working day being Wednesday, May 8.
Announcing his departure, the archdeacon said: “Having served 33 years as an ordained minister and seven years in lay ministry, I feel that 40 years marks a good moment to step down and retire.
"I am profoundly grateful to Bishop Michael for giving me the opportunity to serve as archdeacon of Walsall in a context bursting with diversity and contrasts.
"It has been a delight to work with my lay and clergy colleagues in the archdeaconry, at St Mary’s House and among the senior staff, and to make many friends along the way.
"I am full of admiration for the enduring heart for the gospel that beats in all the parishes, and I am confident that the Holy Spirit will go on guiding us all into the futures that await us.
"I am also immensely grateful to my fellow travellers in the Racial Justice and Inclusion Task Group who have laboured tirelessly and joyfully in our endeavours to take forward the diocesan commitment to embedding racial justice in all we do.
"Stepping down is always hard. I will miss the Black Country with its rich tapestry of cultures and communities, but I won’t forget it.
"'For all that has been, thanks; for all that shall be, yes'"
The Bishop of Lichfield, Rt Rev. Dr Michael Ipgrave said: "It has been a great joy to work with Archdeacon Julian as a trusted and valued colleague.
"He has brought to the Archdeaconry of Walsall and to the Diocese of Lichfield a warm pastoral manner, a commitment to encourage and support clergy and parishes, and a readiness to listen and care.
"We have also all been greatly helped by his unswerving commitment to racial justice and inclusion, which has been a priority for him throughout his ministry.
"On behalf of the diocese, I wish him and Jane every happiness and blessing in all that lies ahead of them, and thank them from my heart."
The Acting Bishop of Wolverhampton, Rt Rev. Jonathan Clark, said: "During the brief time we have had working together, I have learned to value Julian’s insight, and his faith that God is at work even in the most difficult situations.
"I am thankful to have worked with such a thoughtful and caring colleague, always looking for opportunities to serve others.
"His work in the Walsall Archdeaconry will bear fruit for many years in the church’s ministry and mission."
The Bishop of Lichfield will write shortly to clergy, ministers and parishes in the Wolverhampton Episcopal Area setting out plans for interim arrangements for pastoral oversight.