In the first of a new series of interviews in ‘the pod’ – the team rector’s cool micro caravan – we meet the Revd Peter Clark as he retires from his position as the minister for Bridport United Church and Uploders Chapel.
The Bridge: Peter, you’re retiring from the role you’ve held here in Bridport since 2013. Why have you decided to go now?
Peter Clark: I’m so ready! The last couple of years have been remarkably hectic and I’ve felt really stretched. The minister at the United Church in Dorchester retired early so I took on more of the responsibility for that church on top of my duties in Bridport and Uploders; it was a lot. I’d always planned to retire about now, and events have shown that it’s the right decision.
In preparation for this change, my wife, Sue, and I have moved out of the church house and into our own house in Bridport so I’m looking forward to being a part of this vibrant, dynamic town for many years to come.
TB: What are you going to do next?
PC: I have a six-month plan! It feels like there’s an element of ‘shedding’ involved, a transition between working life and retirement, so I’m going to take the first three months off completely – total rest – with no church work at all. Sue and I are looking forward to travelling and we’re planning to visit some places in the UK including the Lake District and parts of Scotland as well as down here in the South West.
TB: Sounds great! Then what?
PC: During the next three months I’m going to start some church things again. I want to keep my involvement with Soul Space [BUC’s contemporary worship team] and I’ll be part of the ‘pulpit supply’, available as a retired minister to lead some services at United Reformed churches in the area and perhaps taking some special services such as funerals – but probably not those for ‘my’ BUC folk. I’ll also be ecumenical officer for the South West area of the URC’s Wessex synod until March and working with Churches Together in Dorset.
TB: And what’s your longer term plan?
PC: I’ll become available to be a part of the retired ministry team across the Methodist Circuit too, including eventually those churches that used to be my pastorate. And of course it’ll be great to have more time for my hobbies.
TB: Tell us about those…
PC: I started writing a novel in 2015 and I want to finish it! It’s in the fantasy genre. I love reading, too, and I sing with the New Elizabethan Singers here in Bridport. I’m looking forward to getting together with them again after the long Covid-enforced break. I also have an urge to do some sailing – I’ve sailed yachts in Greece and on the Norfolk Broads but I want to try dinghies and I’m thinking about going to the sailing school in Weymouth. And it would also be great to do something with my hands, so I’m considering a boat building course at the academy in Lyme Regis.
TB: Who’s taking over from you at BUC?
PC: The Revd John Yarrien. He’s been around this area for about a year and he’s the superintendent minister at the United Church in Dorchester, so he’ll be adding BUC and Uploders to his responsibilities. I’ve been sharing duties at Dorchester with him for the last 12 months or so.
TB: What are your feelings on the eve of your retirement?
PC: I feel privileged to have been called to the ministry and to have been supported by this denomination and, in particular, by the folk of this wonderful town, both in church and in the wider community. I wish John all the best and I know Bridport will welcome him as warmly as it did me.