TWO canons with links to the rural community have been invited to join a prestigious group.
At a time when the pressure on farmers and rural communities across Salisbury Diocese has never been higher, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Stephen Lake, has invited the canons to join Salisbury Cathedral’s College of Canons.
The Reverend David Bacon, Team Rector of the Forest and Avon team, will be admitted as a non-residentiary canon alongside The Revd Richard Kirlew, who chairs the Agricultural Chaplains Association, a circle of Christian ministers working in rural communities.
The appointments reflect the need for the Church to address the concerns of its rural communities, which are often isolated and currently face great uncertainty post Brexit, with agricultural costs that have doubled since 2019 and anxiety about food security.
The Bishop of Salisbury, The Right Reverend Stephen Lake said: “There is important work to be done in our rural communities, with a recent report pinpointing poor mental health as the biggest hidden problem faced by farmers under 40.
“This makes the appointment of these two canons with their insights into the needs of rural communities an important and timely one.”
Rev Kirlew is originally from York and following an education at the Minster School, where he became Head Server at the Minster, he went to Askham Bryan Agricultural College and studied machinery and crop production.
Following some years with an agricultural contractor, he joined the Ambulance Service and worked at three ambulance stations throughout North Yorkshire.
He was elected as the first full-time National Secretary of a staff association representing ambulance staff.
That led him to Somerset in 1988, where he was ordained in Wells Cathedral in 2005.
In Bath and Wells Diocese he served his curacy and was also Chair of the Diocesan Rural Life Group.
In 2008, he moved to Swansea and Brecon Diocese as Rural Life Advisor with seven tiny parishes. Fifteen months later he became National Lead on Rural Life to the Church in Wales.
He moved to Salisbury diocese in 2015 to take up a House for Duty Team Vicar Post in the Three Valleys Benefice.
He formed an Agricultural Chaplaincy in Sherborne Deanery with links to Salisbury Livestock Centre, which he coupled with being Rural Officer for Dorset.
Rev Bacon, after a short time in the Home Office, trained at Salisbury and Wells Theological College.
He has spent 35 years in parish ministry in the dioceses of Rochester, Exeter and Salisbury where he has been serving in the Forest and Avon Team for nearly 19 years.
He was also Rural Dean of Alderbury for eight years. David enjoys preaching and teaching and enabling others to grow in discipleship.
He is married to Katie and they have two grown up children, two grandchildren and one on the way.
The Dean of Salisbury, The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, added: “It is important that the College of Canons reflects all our communities, urban and rural, and given the current challenges faced by our farmers it will be a good thing to have their voice heard here at the Cathedral and in the broader Church.”
The two canons will be admitted to the College of Canons during Evensong at 5.30pm on Thursday (October 5).