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A Service of Thanksgiving for the ministry of The Venerable Michael Everitt, the Archdeacon of Lancaster, and his wife Ruth Everitt has taken place at Blackburn Cathedral.

Beginning at 6pm on Saturday evening, the Thanksgiving event, including a Eucharist, gifts and many warm tributes, was attended by family and friends and many familiar faces from across the County from the span of Michael and Ruth’s time in the Diocese. It was a chance to formally thank them both for their many years of service.

It was in early April when it was announced Archdeacon Michael had been appointed Canon Pastor at Durham Cathedral. To date, Michael has served all his 27 years of ministry in the Diocese of Blackburn, apart from a three-year secondment to our Link Diocese, the Free State, in South Africa.

He has been a Curate; a University Chaplain; Rector of Standish; Priest-in-Charge at Appley Bridge All Saints; Area Dean of Chorley Deanery; Archdeacon of Lancaster from 2011 to present and, most recently, he was also Vicar of Preston during a period of vacancy.

While Archdeacon, Michael also has been a much-valued Chair of both the Diocesan Board of Education and CIDARI – The Diocese’s Multi-Academy Trust.

Speaking after the Thanksgiving Service on Saturday evening, Michael commented: “I was both humbled and touched at so many people coming to the cathedral on Saturday and for the generosity in the gifts and comments. 

“Sam Hudson, Shaun Turnbull and the Cathedral choir were amazing. The sun showed the lantern to its full glory and it was all a foretaste of heaven.

“It was lovely to have all three of our current Bishops there, demonstrating our commitment to mutual flourishing. It was also amazing that, alongside my current colleague Archdeacon Mark, there were also present three former Archdeacons: John Hawley, Peter Ballard and Colin Williams. I was also deeply touched that Bishop Nicholas and Bishop Geoff were there.

“If ‘first impressions count, and last impressions stick’ (as my Headmaster said on our last day at school) my last impression of Blackburn Diocese is one of a Diocese living out its Vision to be ‘healthy churches transforming communities’.”

Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, added: “Many people in the Diocese of Blackburn, and some who have moved to other parts of the country, owe a huge debt of gratitude to God for Michael’s ministry over 27 years in Lancashire. As Curate, Chaplain, Vicar and Archdeacon he has lived out his calling as a Priest with faithfulness and energy.

“I personally have really appreciated his support in my six years in the Diocese, not least his remembrance of the date of my consecration with a card each year.

“As a Diocese we have been extremely well served and trust that this next chapter of ministry in Durham will be both rewarding and fruitful. We wish him and Ruth God’s blessing as they move, have a break and then settle into their new home and ministry. May they have stories to tell of the goodness of God as they make this transition.”

Michael’s fellow Archdeacon, The Venerable Mark Ireland, added further, final, warm words of tribute saying: “One of the joys of becoming Archdeacon of Blackburn in 2015 was renewing my friendship with Michael who I have known for more than 20 years.

“We shall hugely miss three things in particular about Michael. Firstly, Michael ‘knows’: his knowledge of church law and parishes in the Diocese is second to none.

“Secondly, Michael cares: his pastoral care of clergy and their families and church wardens and lay leaders of the Diocese has been remarkable. And thirdly, Michael prays: all his work is undergirded by a deep spirituality and relationship with God.

“Of course, these three things will also make him a wonderful Canon Pastor at Durham Cathedral.”