Cathedral honour for Methodist

By Peter Lazenby A YORKSHIRE Anglican cathedral is to make history by appointing its first non-Anglican as Honorary Canon.

Methodist minister the Rev David Wilkes OBE, who is the Chaplain General of Her Majesty's Land Forces, will be licensed as an Honorary Ecumenical Canon of Ripon Cathedral by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer during the Cathedral's Service of Evensong at 5.30pm on Sunday. He will be installed by the Rev Canon Michael Glanville-Smith, on behalf of the Cathedral Chapter.

The appointment comes as Britain's Christians begin a week of prayer for Christian Unity.

Mr Wilkes, 57, will be the first Methodist minister to be installed in the Cathedral, following the retirement of the Ven. John Blackburn, the previous Chaplain General to Her Majesty's Land Forces.

Commissioned

Mr Wilkes, based at the Royal Army Chaplains' Department, Upavon, Wiltshire, was born in Nantwich, Cheshire, in 1947. He trained for the Methodist Ministry at Hartley Victoria College Manchester and was ordained in June 1976. He ministered in Worsley, Manchester, from 1973 to 1978 and then moved to an ecumenical appointment in Desborough, Northamptonshire in 1978.

He served for three years as a Territorial Army Chaplain in Manchester and Peterborough before being commissioned into the Royal Army Chaplains' Department as a Regular Army Chaplain in 1980.

Mr Wilkes said: "I was delighted to be asked by the bishop, to become an Honorary Ecumenical Canon of Ripon Cathedral. The statutes of the cathedral have been altered to create ecumenical canonries which allow me, as a Methodist minister, to be appointed as the first holder of such a post in Ripon. I regard this as a significant appointment and look forward to developing the links between the Royal Army Chaplains' Department and Ripon Cathedral."

The service comes at the start of the week of prayer for Christian Unity which runs from January 18 to 25.

Canon Michael Glanville-Smith said: "It is a significant event in the life of the Diocese and the Cathedral because it demonstrates the growing covenant partnership between Anglicans and Methodists which is unfolding at this time."

The appointment also cements the close links that Ripon Cathedral has with the Armed Forces, said Canon Keith Punshon of the Cathedral.

He said: "Ripon Cathedral serves Catterick Garrison, the largest Army base in Western Europe. Soldiers in danger don't ask a padre what church he belongs to, and the Army regularly swaps padres of different denominations around in their demanding work.

"This appointment shows our deep respect and support for the ministry of Army Chaplains."