Dr John Sentamu retires as 97th Archbishop of York on Sunday 7th June:

As I watch the strangely quiet River Ouse from our apartment at Bishopthorpe Palace, my mind is taken back to a day in 2005 when the river was far from quiet!

Many of you will remember my arrival by boat at York Minster on the day I began my ministry as Archbishop here, a day full of life, noise, celebration and excitement. A bitterly cold day, I decided not to release the seven doves of peace – they could not get to Wigan safely.

There is much talk of change at the moment. What has happened in the last few months is, as has been said so often, unprecedented, and what will happen over the coming months still uncertain. In the midst of these unwelcome and sudden changes, may I encourage you to reflect on a different kind of change – the gentle, constant and yet life-transforming change brought about by God’s Spirit working through his church to bring love, joy, peace, power and salvation to us and to all who will receive God’s generous gifts.

In nearly fifteen years as Archbishop of York, I am humbled and filled with thankfulness when I consider the changes God has brought about in me and in this Diocese. Through God’s generosity and through yours, through God’s limitless hospitality and through ours, and most of all through God’s strong and saving love poured into our hearts and shaping us together into the likeness of Christ, I have been blessed and privileged to see our generous churches making and nurturing disciples, our relationships, our prayer and our witness transformed, becoming more and more a reflection of our calling to be the embassy of heaven on earth.

There are too many highlights to mention them all here – outdoor baptisms outside York Minster, the change to Free Will Offers, my Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, the Deanery Missions, Come and Seeā€¦ the list would never end! Friends, thank you for allowing me to become part of you – loving each other into holiness, bearing each other’s burdens, and of course becoming Yorkshireman of the Year in 2007!

It is in many ways hard to leave now, when we are all in such need of leadership and of care. But I leave without fear, for the Lord our God is with us – God our loving Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ our eternal friend, and God the Holy Spirit, the giver of life. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever, and I am thankful to him for all that he has done in and through me during my time as Archbishop, for all that he is doing in these troubling times, and for all that is yet to be, for myself and for the Diocese of York. The Best is yet to be.

With love and prayers

+Sentamu Ebor: