HE has been the custodian of one of Havant’s most cherished buildings for almost five years.
But Canon Peter Jones, rector of St Faith’s Church, is off to pastures new.
Canon Jones, whose last service will be on March 2, said the church must continue to diversify and become a ‘hub of the community’ if it is to survive in the coming years.
The church owns several old buildings around Havant and Canon Jones said the church should continue to explore ways of using them.
He said: ‘If the church does nothing to rethink the way it uses its buildings... our parish church will not be able to pay its way.
‘Churches do become redundant – but the reason for that is they don’t reinvent themselves.
‘But for St Faith’s, because it is so brilliantly-located geographically to serve the borough of Havant, it’s got all kinds of opportunities to become a real thriving centre.’
He said the nave of the church was used for all kinds of events since medieval times – not just religious, but also cultural and social gatherings.
‘We want to maintain a beautiful sanctuary for people to enjoy peace and reflection, but it also needs to be a place where people can congregate for a variety of reasons, social and cultural,’ said Canon Jones.
‘We need to make sure this building at the heart of Havant is fit for purpose.’
He said the priority will be making St Faith’s ‘dry and warm’ by carrying out roof repairs.
Canon Jones said he had enjoyed his time in Havant and that had been one of the ‘more challenging’ posts in his career spanning almost 40 years.
He added: ‘I have had some very precious moments in Havant.’
He will be moving to a part-time post in York.
He said: ‘Last year I became a pensioner as far as the NHS was concerned as I was a chaplain there.
‘With my wife just retired we decided it was time to have a shallower flight path to retirement. I shall be going to work literally in the shadow of York Minster. The vicarage is a couple of hundred yards from where I was ordained, so it’s coming full circle.’