The Reverend Mark Birch has been appointed Minor Canon and Chaplain of Westminster Abbey.
He will take up his post in January. This is a new post at the Abbey combining the role of a Minor Canon with that of Chaplain to the Abbey community. As a Minor Canon, he will be responsible for planning and participating in services, in particular the pastoral offices – baptisms, weddings and funerals – and memorial services. As Chaplain, he will support the Canon Steward in responsibility for the pastoral care of the Abbey's 800 staff and volunteers and the Abbey's regular worshippers. The role of Chaplain has been filled in recent times by a self-supporting Minister and previously by religious Sisters.
Mark Birch comes to Westminster Abbey after two years as Priest-in-Charge of the parish of St Faith, Chaplain at the Hospital of St Cross and Chaplain at Treloar College in Alton, in the Diocese of Winchester. He was previously Chaplain at Helen and Douglas House in Oxford, and before that Chaplain and Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He served his curacy at the parish of Cirencester with Watermoor in the Diocese of Gloucester.
He said this week, 'It is a great delight to be joining the Abbey, and it will be a joy to work as part of such a talented team. The Abbey has a global reputation for liturgy and music of the highest calibre, and few places have greater spiritual or historical significance for the nation. It will be an enormous privilege to have a role in this illustrious institution, and, with others, to offer Chaplaincy to the employees and volunteers who are its "living stones".'
Mark Birch will join the team of Minor Canons of Westminster Abbey, who are responsible to the Dean for all worship and liturgy in the Abbey, in St Margaret's Church, and in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft within the Palace of Westminster. This includes the provision of Sunday and daily worship, as well as baptisms, weddings, memorial services, and very many special and annual services.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: 'Mark Birch joins us with excellent experience both of worship and liturgy and of the Church's great choral tradition. He will bring additional scope to the Minor Canons' department which has been responsible for an increased number of special services in recent times. He will also bring very strong experience of chaplaincy in a university setting, in a children's hospice and more recently in Winchester, invaluable in offering pastoral care to the Abbey community, which has grown substantially in recent years. We greatly look forward to welcoming him to the Abbey.'