A FORMER long-serving Leek vicar has become the new Archdeacon of Stoke-on-Trent.
Around 400 people gathered in Lichfield Cathedral last Tuesday evening to witness Reverend Matthew Parker’s collation, induction and welcome as Archdeacon of Stokeon- Trent and his installation as an Honorary Canon.
Matthew, who had been the vicar of St Edward’s Church in Leek for the past 13 years, succeeds The Ven Godfrey Stone in this important role within the Church of England in Staffordshire.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Lichfield said: “Following a Bible reading which recounted St Paul’s opportunity to escape from jail following an earthquake, an archdeacon’s role was compared in the sermon to that of an overseer – not strictly comparable to the jailer, but as someone who had responsibility both to keep law and order in the churches within his patch and to look to the welfare of their clergy and congregations.
“Matthew is no stranger to the area having been rector of Leek since 2000, although he was born in Manchester and grew up in Middlesex.” Together with his wife Sarah and three children, Matthew moved lock, stock, Staffordshire terrier and electric guitars to his new base in Newcastle- under-Lyme during August.
During the service, which was attended by the county’s Vice Lord Lieutenant and representatives of local government, the prison service, schools and voluntary groups, as well as many members of local churches, Matthew was formally welcomed to the role by members of the diocese and representatives of the area including Susie Lillingston, the High Sheriff of Staffordshire and Heather Bellamy, director of Cross Rhythms Radio in Stoke.
Before leaving Leek, Matthew told the Post & Times: “I will miss being a vicar for a single parish although I will be taking services but at a variety of churches. I will miss the longterm contact with families.
“This will be the first time I will not belong to one church that is supporting and encouraging me.
“However, I will be working with an excellent team of people in my new job. I won't be on my own and I have a good family who support me.” Matthew has followed in the footsteps of fellow former St Edward’s vicar George Youell who also went on to be an Archdeacon in the 1960s.