Hereford Times Article - 15/10/2020

Published on: 15th October 2020

Bishop Richard

Last week the oldest priest in the Church of England, who served nearly his entire ministry in Herefordshire and Worcestershire died at the age of 103.

The Reverend William Tavernor was ordained in December 1941 and remained a village vicar until he retired. He was born in 1916, living through 21 Prime Ministers, five monarchs and two world wars. He was widowed twice.He was the last vicar to farm the parish Glebe land in days when the salary was £300 a year and there were no expenses. He became the oldest minister to conduct a marriage when he wed his grandson Jack and bride Becky at the age of 98. When asked about the secret of his long and healthy life, he explained: “When I boil up my vegetables, my peas and carrots, I drink the water afterwards.” three years ago, on his 100th birthday, he said he couldn’t exactly recall why he became a vicar, but said it is something he didn’t regret.

In these days, where we worship fame and celebrity, he’s a reminder of the value of unseen faithfulness and persistence.There’s a sad phrase used by the disciples on the Emmaus road shortly after Jesus death. In a conversation with the Jesus they didn’t recognise, they said, “We had hoped.” I imagine many of us had hoped that we were on a trajectory to normality before this second wave of COVID hit us. William’s persistence, grit and servant heartedness is what’s needed at a time like this.

Similarly, the many key workers who are helping us all through are the unsung heroes of the hour. William lived through the darkest days of our history and saw hope realised in the end. The disciples shortly afterwards recognised Jesus resurrected and saw that hope could never be extinguished again.A new world had broken into this one. They say you should never waste a good crisis. This could be a doorway of opportunity to re-think a lot of things, the economy and how we relate to one another. We will get through this and in retrospect may well see, even in the pain and anxiety of now, a new and better world emerging for the future.

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