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13 July 2012

ALTHOUGH the farewell to the Archbishop of Canterbury has been postponed until the November group of sessions, tribute was paid to three long-serving figures for whom this was their last group of sessions.

There were a number of distinctive voices in General Synod, but none so distinctive, among the House of Bishops, as that of the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said.

"He is a listener: he may not always do what people want him to do, but he does what he can to take account of all points of view, and to keep everyone as far as possible together. In his diocese he has sought to foster an awareness for the need both for collaborative ministry and for a diversity of patterns of ministry. His courtesy and pastoral care have been evident to all as he has sought to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Prayer and mission were his priorities. "He has moved the diocese of Blackburn forward in mission." He had also been the spokesman, among the Lords Spiritual, for deaf and disabled people.

Dr Sentamu broke the tradition of restricting formal farewells among the bishops to diocesans by paying tribute to the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett, a Provincial Episcopal Visitor. "Bishop Martyn is emphatic in his insistence, as a bishop suffragan, that diocesans come first. Or, in the case of processions, last." In the Synod, he had always been a "fair-minded, honest, and courteous proponent of a traditionalist position".

The Clerk to the Synod, Dr Colin Podmore, paid tribute to Margaret Stevenson, who was retiring as the chief stenographer, who had first come to York in July 1983. She was meticulous, erudite, the soul of discretion. She had recorded great flights of oratory, and complete rubbish, too. "No one could tell by looking at her what category of material she thought she was recording."

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