One one foot into retirement: The Reverend Daivd James is looking forward to doing a little more walking in the near future. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 7173-05-13TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Rector to hang up dog collar after 4,680 Sunday services, 360 weddings, 270 baptisms and 1,200 funerals.
SIDMOUTH’S top parish priest is to hang up his dog collar and retire after 30 years of pastoral work – in which he has never once moaned about his boss.
The Reverend Prebendary David James has clocked up something like 4,680 Sunday services, 360 weddings, 270 baptisms and 1,200 funerals over the decades.
And the 65-year-old is now looking forward to enjoying something many of us take for granted – weekends.
Mr James, who has been rector of Sidmouth for 18 years, says it is the people that he and his wife Ruth will miss the most.
He told the Herald: “I’ve been blessed.”
Mr James said that sharing in both joy and sorrow in people’s lives over the years had been a “profound privilege”.
Parishioners will say their farewells to the popular priest on Sunday (February 3).
“I’ve enjoyed being part of the church in Sidmouth immensely and have been blessed with wonderful colleagues,” said Mr James.
“I’m looking forward to the potential freedom of retirement – and weekends! The one thing you miss as a parish priest is the weekend.”
“It’s an extremely demanding job – one that never stops as your home is also your workplace, which most people don’t experience. You can’t come home at the end of the day, close the door and escape – but that’s the deal, you are there to serve.”
A committed churchgoer since he was baptised as a baby, Mr James left a career as a linguist who taught modern languages to become a priest 30 years ago.
He has since led at least three services every Sunday and been part of an average of 12 weddings, 40 funerals and nine baptisms a year.
“You see people through all sorts of circumstances, from joy to sorrow,” said Mr James.
“It is a profound privilege to be invited into people’s lives at a fairly deep level. The special times are often when you are leading worship.
“One of the most wonderful things is being able to celebrate with people on big parish occasions.”
He recalled how a low point – a major reordering of the church in 2009 – became a highlight when the church team overcame the challenges put before them.
Mr James reserved special praise and thanks for his wife. The couple will move from The Rectory in Glen Road to Exeter.
There will be a eucharist service at Sidmouth Parish Church at 10am on Sunday, where parishioners can say their goodbyes to Mr James.