Gay archdeacon moving on

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The Ven Peter Leonard is to step down as Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight and team rector of Newport and Carisbrooke with Gatcombe.

He will switch roles to work for a charity after almost eight years working for the Church of England, three of which have been as the senior clergy person on the Isle of Wight. His final day working as archdeacon and team rector will be on February 28.

Peter will become Chief Executive of Family Links – the Centre for Emotional Health, a national charity and training organisation dedicated to the promotion of emotional health at home, at school, and at work.

He has paid tribute to those he has worked alongside on the Isle of Wight, and to colleagues in the Diocese of Portsmouth.

“It has been a real privilege to work alongside people in the island’s churches and communities,” he said. “It has been exciting to help to set up new projects, such as the team ministry covering Newport, Carisbrooke and Gatcombe and I hope the groundwork has been laid for my successor there.

“I’ve enjoyed being part of the island community for the past few years and have been especially pleased to see it pulling together during the pandemic. I think island people have done superbly well to care for each other at a time of great stress and anxiety – it has shown off the island at its best.

“It has also been a joy to work with colleagues in the Diocese of Portsmouth, both at Portsmouth Cathedral and as Archdeacon.”

The commissary bishop for the Diocese of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Rob Wickham, said: “The Ven Peter Leonard has managed to bring together a number of significant responsibilities in the diocese with great skill and resilience.

“We will miss his questioning mind, and his strategic and solution-focussed energies in abundance. I hope you will join me in praying for him in his next chapter of serving Jesus Christ.”

Peter was originally ordained in 1997 and served as a priest in Guildford diocese, then became a teacher and a headteacher before coming to Portsmouth Cathedral as a residentiary canon in 2014. He was acting Dean of Portsmouth before being appointed as Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight in 2019. In 2020, he also became team rector for Newport and Carisbrooke with Gatcombe after a parish reorganisation.

His final Sunday as archdeacon and team rector will be on February 27. Peter and his partner Mark will then move to live on the mainland.