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Farewell service to mark Archdeacon Penny Driver’s retirement

A special farewell Candlemas service is to mark the retirement of the Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness, the Ven Penny Driver.

A Candlemas service will mark the retirement of the Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness, the Ven Penny Driver.Penny – who was one of the first women ever to be deaconed in 1987 – has been in post in the south of the county for the last five years.

The service to celebrate her years of ministry will be held on Thursday 2 February at Holy Trinity Kendal from 7pm.

Penny said: “My time in Cumbria has been wonderful and very fulfilling and I thank God for all the opportunities I have had to work with such wonderful people.

“Being an Archdeacon can seem relentless and it’s a position which challenges you to re-think what it means to be a priest. But equally it has been incredibly rewarding for me because I have been able to support clergy and their families so that, in turn, they could concentrate on getting on with the mission of the church.

“It’s a supportive role and I am the kind of person who likes to make things happen, so I have enjoyed putting that to the test.”

Penny came to the diocese in 2012, having previously been Archdeacon of Exeter, where she helped oversee the creation of mission communities in that diocese.

She has used that experience to benefit the county’s ecumenical God for All vision that by 2020 everyone in Cumbria has had the opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus in a Christian community.

As part of the God for All vision, about 35 mission communities are being created across the county, providing a network of church groupings which are mutually supportive and mission-minded.

Penny added: “It’s been a very busy time through God for All, but I firmly believe we’re moving in the right direction with the strategy. Although it’s challenging, it’s also exciting and people are beginning to see that maybe God is calling us to be a different type of church, in a different way.”

Penny began working full-time for the Church as a lay person in the role of Children’s Advisor for Bradford Diocese. She helped develop the city’s first multi-faith RE syllabus. From 1986 to 1988 she worked as Youth Officer in Newcastle Diocese, also campaigning for the ordination of women as priests from 1987. She became the first woman ordained priest in the Diocese of Ripon in 1994.

She later served as Diocesan Director of Ordinands in Ripon from 1998 to 2006 while also having responsibility for three parishes and became the first woman Honorary Canon for Ripon Cathedral in 1998. From there she was appointed Archdeacon of Exeter and after five and a half years moved to Cumbria, living in Lindale, as the Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev'd James Newcome, said: "It has been a joy to work with Penny for the last five years as part of the diocese's senior leadership team. The role of Archdeacon is not an easy one, yet she has always approached it with a gentleness of touch and a determination to grow God's kingdom in Cumbria, all rooted in her wonderful faith.

"That is reflected in all Penny has done to progress the God for All vision and strategy across the south of the county and beyond. She has brought so much to that process from her previous experience of helping develop mission communities in the Diocese of Exeter.

“We're delighted that while Penny is to enjoy a richly deserved retirement, she will remain in the county. I know she is exploring opportunities to work with our new training organisation Cumbria Christian Learning, so harking back to her teaching roots. I know that whatever role she may pursue it will be to the benefit of all she encounters through God, who we thank for guiding Penny in all her years of outstanding and dedicated ministry. She retires with our ongoing prayers and love in Christ."

Penny’s retirement is effective from 28 February, 2017, though her final day of work for the diocese will be 6 February, 2017. She will continue to live in the south of the county. The new Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness, the Rev’d Vernon Ross, and the new Archdeacon of Carlisle, the Rev’d Lee Townend, will be licensed at a service in Carlisle Cathedral on 25 February, 2017.


Notes to editors
Archdeacons in the Church of England are senior Anglican clergy, serving under their diocesan bishop and with responsibility to a designated area (or archdeaconry) in terms of church buildings and pastoral care for clergy. In Cumbria, an archdeacon is also designated a Strategic Development Officer within the God for All vision and strategy.


For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at

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