Fenland Rector to retire in April - but he will continue to oversee St Mary’s rise from the ashes

THE Rector of St Peter’s and St Mary’s Churches in March has announced his retirement.

But the Rev Anthony Chandler has agreed to a request from the Bishop of Ely and will become Priest in Charge of St Mary’s until the massive rebuilding project is completed.

Rev Chandler, 69, will take his last services on Easter Sunday before retiring on April 30 after 12 years as Rector.

In the latest parish magazine the Rev Jenny Webb, priest at St Peter’s and St Mary’s, said: “As Anthony will be 69 this year this will not have come as a great surprise, but, of course, he still looks much younger!

“In view of the unexpected change brought about by the fire at St Mary’s, and Anthony’s commitment to see the church rebuilt, he has, however, agreed to take on the role of Priest in Charge at St Mary’s, on an unpaid basis, until the church is reopened.”

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The church has begun a remarkable rise from the ashes after it was destroyed in a fire almost two years ago.

Stonework and the chancel arch has been replaced, the roof has been replaced, and new windows installed. This week the enormous task of dismantling the scaffolding began.

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Before being appointed as Rector, Rev Chandler served his curacy at the two March parishes.

Prior to becoming a priest, Rev Chandler was head teacher of two Church of England primary schools, St John’s at Orton Goldhay and the Rackham, School at Witchford. He was also a teacher at Burrowmoor Primary School in March and Littleport Primary School.

He was also the Ely Diocesan Youth Officer for four years.

Rev Chandler and wife Helen will continue to live in March following his retirement. Rev Webb said he will “honour the normal expectations of retired clergy and will not therefore exercise an active ministry in St Peter’s or the town during the interregnum”.

Rev Chandler’s retirement means that there will be two paid clergy in the town - and both posts will be vacant.

Last year Canon Peter Baxandall retired as Rector of St Wendreda’s Church and as Priest in Charge of St John’s Church. He had served in the Ely diocese for more than 25 years.

Rev Webb said: “All four Anglican churches in the town will be part of the consultation on future arrangements for ministry in the town.

“The paid clergy will, of course, be supported by retired or self-supporting priests, such as myself, and by our readers and all those lay people actively involved in leadership and pastoral care.

“In the interim, the churchwardens and I, with David Harrison (reader), and support from the Deanery, remain committed to ensuring continuity of worship and pastoral care at St Peter’s.

“In due course, there will be opportunities to say goodbye to Anthony and Helen and to express our appreciation for all that they have contributed to the life of both parishes and to ministry in the town.”

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