It is with profound sorrow, but with a deep sense of gratitude, that I write to ask all the parishes in the Ebbsfleet family to pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, who died peacefully (if suddenly) after a long illness, last Sunday morning, Trinity Sunday, 11 June.
We here in the Ebbsfleet office have many reasons to thank God for Geoffrey, as a friend as well as a bishop. It was my joy as his chaplain to welcome and induct Geoffrey to his new role as Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe in 2001, and we worked together closely until, in 2005, I left to join Archbishop Rowan at Lambeth; and for much of that period, Catherine, now my PA, was Geoffrey’s PA. In the midst of a lot of hard work and travel, there was a great deal of laughter at the more absurd aspects of ministry across ‘a sixth of the world’s land surface’. Thereafter Geoffrey and I worked together of course in many ways, taking every opportunity we could, to promote between the churches a patient and ever-deepening sense of communion.
All of Geoffrey’s best qualities were committed in the Lord’s service: holiness, learning as much as teaching, a talent for culture as well as for friendship, long-sightedness and long-suffering, generosity in all things. Although he was an unmistakeably catholic Christian, living in and from – and fascinated by! – the heritage of the whole Church, his best energy was given, of course, to nurturing and guiding Anglo-Catholic witness, through which God had given him so very much. He longed and prayed deeply for The Society to renew that witness in and beyond the Church of England. He will be very sorely missed; but may his memory be eternal!
The funeral will take place in Chichester Cathedral, on 5 July at 2.30pm. Further details will be available on the cathedral website.