I am delighted to be able to announce the appointment of Gary O’Neill as interim Precentor at Blackburn Cathedral. Gary has been Director of Studies at All Saints Centre for Mission and Ministry since 2007 and Canon Liturgist at Birmingham Cathedral for the 10 years prior to his current appointment, where he had overall responsibility for the delivery of worship.
Gary is passionate about music and liturgy within the worshipping life of the church and has significant experience of helping congregations make the connection between Sunday worship and daily life. His creativity and breadth of liturgical knowledge have enabled him to develop patterns of worship that are life giving and engaging across the ages.
As a self-supporting minister in his village church, Gary has worked hard to develop and run the local community choir and in doing so has helped build bridges between the church and village communities. This very much reflects his understanding of how the artistic expression of faith can provide creative mission opportunities.
In his current role, Gary leads the tutor teams for modules in worship, pastoral care, and theological reflection and helps shape the worshipping life of the All Saints community. He has had significant involvement with many Blackburn Ordinands so is not unfamiliar with ‘our way of doing things!’ That said, his wide-ranging experience of church life and worship will help us as a community to develop and keep engaging in our modern world.
Commenting on his appointment Bishop Julian said:
“I am delighted that Gary has accepted this invitation to come and help us at Blackburn Cathedral for this interim period of time. He will bring considerable expertise from his past experience, as well as good support for the existing team, when resources are severely stretched. He will enable the high standards of liturgy and music that we expect of our Cathedral Church to be maintained for the immediate future.”
In preparation for his arrival Gary commented:
“Returning to life in a cathedral community is an unexpected and genuinely exciting prospect. I first sang with a small chamber choir in Blackburn Cathedral nearly thirty years ago and have been an admirer of its liturgical space ever since. I look forward to working with new colleagues and contributing to the life of the community; Christine and I are anticipating making new friends with whom to worship as we change congregations.”
Gary is married to Christine who teaches in further education and is also a Reader in her local church. They have two grown-up sons and are expecting their first grandchild. Do pray for Gary and Christine as they prepare to move and join our community life here at Blackburn Cathedral.
These are exciting times for us at the Cathedral and when we come out of lockdown, Gary’s experience will help us to hit the ground running. Our hope is that Gary will be installed in early July, lockdown and social distancing permitting.
Dean of Blackburn