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Longest serving vicar in Church of England to retire

by Cara Bentley

The 93 year old great-grandfather of eight is to end his ministry in March, having started at the age of 30.

Rev Jim Cocke is the vicar at All Saints' Church in Headington in Oxford as has been there since 1957.



He will retire on 31st March, with a service held last Sunday celebrating his ministry attended by his family, former colleagues and local connections such as the headmistress of nearby Headington school. 

Rev Cocke told Premier: "It's time to give way to a younger person."

He reflected on the changes he's seen in his own church and the Anglican church generally, such as the ordination of women and the changes to liturgy.

However, he said one of the things he has noticed most is the change of attitude towards Sundays, telling Premier News Hour: "There has been this whole business of secularisation, that Sundays are simply nowadays an ordinary day and this has affected church life enormously."



When asked what the secret is to being able to keep going as a vicar for so long, he replied: "It's not exactly a secret, it's what we call the grace of God, you're kept going by the strength that comes not from inside but that comes from outside.

"Also I had the support of my wife, who sadly died over ten years ago, and also I've been very fortunate having the support of my four children. None of them have gone into ministry but they're all members of the church and they all go to church and they're a very good example."

Writing in his church magazine, he told his congregation: "All being well, I shall reach the age of 94 years on 3rd May 2020. I shall therefore be retiring from full time Ministry in the Church of England at the end of March. I have less energy than used to be the case and the recovery from my fall in the Vicarage in April 2019 has proved to be rather slow.

"Details about the immediate future and the interregnum will be published in the February magazine."

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