Packed cathedral bids a final farewell to Bishop Michael

By staff reporter in Local People

Mourners travelled from as far afield as Sweden and America for the funeral last weekend of the former Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Rev Michael Perham.

Gloucester Cathedral was packed for the ceremony, much of which Bishop Michael had planned himself before his death from cancer at the age of 69 on Easter Monday.

Among many poignant and touching moments during the two hour service were tributes to Bishop Michael by all of his four daughters, Rachel, Anna, Sarah and Mary.

The Right Rev Perham had served as Bishop of Gloucester from 2004 to 2014. His retirement made way for the country’s first female diocesan bishop, the Right Rev Rachel Treweek, to take his place.

Bishop Rachel played a leading part in Saturday’s service and also stood in the cathedral’s south porch afterwards to say farewell to the congregation.

Thirty bishops and 15 deans attended the funeral and they all entered the cathedral together, processing from the Parliament Room to the service in simple black and white robes.

Bishop Michael was described to the congregation as ’a wonderful father, husband and brother who made an unprecedented contribution to the liturgy of the Church of England’.

During the service Bishop Michael’s crucifix, white stole, bible, pastoral staff and pectoral cross were placed on his coffin. All the artefacts had special significance to him - the 19th century crucifix had been his grandmother’s, the stole was made from his wife Alison’s wedding dress, the red bible was one he had used both at home and away for 20 years, the staff was a gift to him from Derby Cathedral and the cross was the one he wore daily.

Bishop Michael’s sister Teresa Bryant gave a reading during the service and his good friend the Very Rev Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol, preached the sermon,

Afterwards Bishop Rachel said: "I will always be grateful for Bishop Michael’s wisdom, insight and friendship. I am deeply aware of the significant impact of his ministry on the lives of individuals and worshipping communities across the Diocese of Gloucester.

"His gifts and ministry have also enabled and influenced so much beyond the borders of this diocese, not least in the prayers and liturgies of the Church of England.

"As we give thanks for Bishop Michael we are also deeply thankful for Alison, and we pray for her and the family that they will know the everlasting arms of God beneath them and around them."

The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, said: "Michael was very much a national and international figure. He will be remembered for decades if not centuries for his writings on the church’s worship."

He said it was a great shame that Bishop Michael’s retirement had been so short because of his illness.

The funeral concluded with a collection for Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, a charity close to Bishop Michael’s heart.

Bishop Michael’s ashes will be interred in the cathedral’s cloister garth at a later date.

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