A PRIEST who was resisting his obligatory retirement on his 70th
birthday, on Monday, has agreed a two-month extension to his tenure
with the Bishop of Warrington.
Backed by community and faith leaders, the Revd Robert
Gallagher, Vicar of St Margaret's, Toxteth, in the diocese of
Liverpool, had been pressing for a two-year extension to enable him
to lead plans for a new Free School in the parish (News,
Mr Gallagher said that he had "felt no option" but to agree to
his retirement after a meeting with the Bishop of Warrington, the
Rt Revd Richard Blackburn, and that he "wanted to leave St
Margaret's with a celebratory party" for his 23-year ministry.
He said, however, that he welcomes the continued action by local
community groups, who are now working with solicitors to look at
"ageism" within the C of E's policy. The Ecclesiastical Offices
(Age Limit) Measure 1975 requires most ordained office-holders to
retire at the age of 70. A bishop may extend a priest's tenure by
up to two years if the "pastoral needs of a parish . . . or of his
diocese make it desirable".
"I have carefully and prayerfully listened to Father Robert and
feel there are strong pastoral reasons to give him a short period
of grace to conclude his time at St Margaret's," Bishop Blackburn
The Bishop also announced that pastoral care St Margaret's will
be overseen by Canon Robert Lewis, a university chaplain in the
city, after Mr Gallagher's retirement.
"I am delighted that Bob has accepted God's call to minister at
St Margaret's," Bishop Blackburn said. "He will be able to continue
the provision of worship as this historic church looks to its
future ministry as a church for the community."