Wakefield Cathedral has officially welcomed Revd Canon Peter Farley-Moore as its new Canon Missioner as it prepares to open its doors once again to the diocesan community as lockdown eases.
Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines attended Revd Peter’s collation, which took place at choral evensong yesterday.
Revd Peter brings a huge range of experiences to the role and talks about his journey to Wakefield and hopes for the future in a series of questions and answers below:
Welcome Peter! Why did you want to take on the role of Canon Missioner at Wakefield Cathedral?
PFM: The role of Missioner is a great privilege for anyone to hold and I’m excited to get started in my new position at this wonderful cathedral.
The word mission means “to be sent” and this role is about God’s message of love being sent to the people of Wakefield and across the diocese of Leeds. My role is about helping to communicate that.
I spent 10 years living in Yorkshire when I was younger so it’s great to be back and to serve this wonderful city as part of the cathedral team.
Wakefield Cathedral is a special place of prayer with a strategic location on the high street and I believe the Cathedral has a role to play in helping support people as we come out of pandemic and being part of rebuilding the local community and economy.
Where were you before you joined Wakefield Cathedral?
PFM: I have held a number of roles in a variety of locations including: Mencap Support Worker in Sheffield – running projects for adults with mild learning difficulties, a number of clergy roles in London, most recently leading a vibrant multicultural congregation and deanery in Deptford, plus training with the Church Mission Society, serving in South Korea and Hong Kong, which was an incredible experience.
In Hong Kong I worked at St Andrew’s Church in Kowloon – a church on the high street with over 1000 members, the majority of whom were Chinese. I would run courses about faith, in English, and many members would initially come along to help improve their language skills but along the way people would discover God’s love for them and really relate to the messages being shared.
It was an amazing experience, I remember on one of my very first weeks we went to the beach and held a number of baptisms in the sea, I was literally thrown in at the deep end but I loved it, it was such a dynamic church serving an international community.
Did you enjoy the Missionary training?
PFM: It was brilliant. I trained in Birmingham in a cross-cultural community of around 50 students from all over the world. It really opened my eyes to working alongside people from different backgrounds and was a great way to increase my understanding of the different thoughts, views and opinions people have around a variety of subjects.
Because part of the training included mission overseas, our college principal used to sporadically turn the electricity off in our houses to replicate the intermittent electrics found in some of these countries. I was lucky enough to live next door to a South Korean priest, so I taught his children English and in return he taught me about Korean culture and cooking, it was great!
What made you initially want to work for the church?
PFM: I became a Christian as a teenager. I remember it was during my A-Levels and things began to fall into place, I was in church one Sunday and thought I heard God tell me to study the Bible. I didn’t know anyone who had followed such a path before and didn’t really know who to talk to so I decided to speak to my local vicar who was a great help. He informed me of a Biblical Studies course at Sheffield University which was perfect as I’d already visited the university (at the time looking to do an economics degree!) and so that’s what I did.
It was a great course as it had students from all backgrounds, with the aim of really pulling apart and dissecting the simplistic understanding of faith. It really gave me a love for the bible, it motivated me to stay with my faith and soon afterwards I got involved with the local church in Sheffield and knew that a life within the church was the life for me.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
PFM: I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Cathedral team and seeing how we can serve our region as we come out of lockdown. The Cathedral is at the heart of the city physically and I believe God wants his love at the heart of the city too.
My role is about working in partnership and connecting the Christian faith with others. I’m looking forward to being one of the public faces of the cathedral, working with people from across the diocese, with schools, charities, local businesses and other faiths. I want to showcase that Wakefield Cathedral is their cathedral, a place where everyone is welcome, built by the people of Wakefield, for the people of Wakefield - we are accessible and inclusive to all, with the love of God at the centre of everything we do.
What role does the cathedral have to play in the modern world?
PFM: A really important role. The cathedral offers a space for people to connect, at a time when loneliness, isolation and mental health issues are so central to societies issues, the cathedral can offer hope, it can offer peace of mind, sharing God’s love and offering a warm welcome to all who come through our doors.
As you enter the cathedral you will find the Labyrinth. Unlike a maze, which is created to challenge and deceive, the labyrinth has just one route. It takes you on a journey of prayer, an opportunity to discover and encounter God. The labyrinth epitimoses my role and the role of the cathedral in society, we are here to walk with you, to help guide you along your own path and encounter God’s love on that journey.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the church?
PFM: Both my wife Andrea and I love the outdoors. Whether walking or running I love being out in the fresh air, moving back up to Yorkshire has been great for this. We have two dogs (Hannah – a black Labrador, and Cymba – a Sprollie) who have loved the move north too!
And finally… why should people come to Wakefield Cathedral?
PFM: There has been a place of Christian worship in the heart of Wakefield for over a thousand years. The cathedral is an amazing building full of history and heritage, worship and wonderment, and everyone can find their own inspiration from this magnificent place – be it in the architecture, in the friendships made or in discovering God’s love.
As I mentioned, Wakefield Cathedral is your Cathedral – it has been supported and lovingly cared for by the local community for hundreds of years. Everyone in Wakefield and from across the diocese belong here, everyone is welcome. I would encourage anyone to visit us, of all faiths and none, to gain a fresh perspective on the cathedral, perhaps on faith and on the world that God has given us.
I look forward to hopefully seeing you here one day soon.