Who can fill Fr Timothy’s big shoes?

Fr Timothy Lipscomb conducts his final service at Preston Minster
Fr Timothy Lipscomb conducts his final service at Preston Minster

They are going to be big shoes to fill, so the Church of England is naturally taking its time naming the next Vicar of Preston.

Fr Timothy Lipscomb’s retirement last week has left a vacancy at the Minster which, for the time being at least, the Diocese of Blackburn will be using supply clergy to cover.

Sunday’s Remembrance Service at the war memorial on the Flag Market is being led by a retired bishop. And other leading clergy will stand in for the vicar at a host of other services and events in the city while the new appointment is made.

But, while an interregnum between vicars can last 12 months or more, the Diocese could be ready to name Fr Timothy’s successor within a matter of weeks.

The Archdeacon of Lancaster, the Venerable Michael Everitt, said: “We hope and pray that Fr Timothy has a long and enjoyable retirement.

“His ministry to the city of Preston was exemplary and he will be deeply missed. It was excellent that so many gathered to celebrate his time in our city on his last day in office on the eve of All Saints Day.

“In preparation for the new vacancy the Diocese of Blackburn, along with the parish of St John and St George, has been looking at interim provision. For example, this Remembrance Sunday the retired Bishop of Burnley - and former Rector of Ribbleton - Rt Rev. John Goddard will be looking after the services.

“The Area Dean of Preston, who is also the Vicar of Broughton, Fr Shaun Baldwin, is heavily involved, as I am as Archdeacon.”

Before holding his final service last Tuesday, Fr Timothy hinted that his successor will be “someone very different.”

That is not expected to mean the new vicar will be a woman. But the Diocese admits there could be changes to the way the parish is run in future.