The Rev Canon Chris Newlands conducted his final service at the Priory on Sunday, January 31, after 11 years as Vicar of Lancaster.

The special service and farewell video was streamed online from 6.30pm as lockdown restrictions mean there was no congregation present to mark Canon Newlands retirement.

Live streaming of services has resulted in the Priory enjoying a global reach and is part of Canon Newlands legacy. He was also instrumental in securing funding for the ongoing repairs to the clock tower and new lighting inside the historic church.

A high profile figure, since 2010 Canon Newlands has played a leading role in civic services and encouraged the Priory’s cultural programme, including welcoming The Moon in 2019.

The openly gay vicar has supported Lancaster Pride and his links with other local organisations include Lancaster Black History Group, Holocaust Memorial and Churches Together in Lancaster.

Canon Newlands has been Canon of Blackburn Cathedral and a member of the General Synod, and Archbishops’ Council which co-ordinates and leads the Church of England’s work.  He was also Prolocutor of the Province of York, Chair of the Major Churches Network and chaired the House of Clergy of the General Synod.

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve as the 42nd Vicar of Lancaster,” said Canon Newlands.

“There is a tremendous sense of history in the very stones of the Priory and we have sought to build on this heritage and hand it on to the next generation of leaders.  I will forever treasure the memories of the people who have been a part of this community as regular worshippers or occasional visitors to the concerts and great occasions we’ve hosted.”

Before being ordained an Anglican priest, Canon Newlands taught in Algeria where he encouraged an interest in theatre, music and the arts on behalf of the British Council.

His previous posts include Precentor of Durham Cathedral and Anglican envoy to Orthodox Churches in Romania and Bulgaria.

He was also a parish priest in Colchester and, while working as Chaplain to the Bishop of Chelmsford, was part of the Chelmsford Cathedral clergy team and assisted him in the House of Lords.

On retirement, Canon Newlands will live in Bexleyheath with his partner, David, a GP.

Church warden, Andrew Nicholson said: “We are immensely grateful to Chris for his 11 years of faithful service to Lancaster Priory and the huge contribution he has made in placing the Priory at the heart of the community.”

Canon Newlands successor will probably be appointed by the end of this year. In the meantime, services will be covered by associate priests and local ministers.

Canon Newlands final service can be viewed on Facebook @lancasterpriorymusic and his final sermon can be viewed here