The Reverend Michael Robinson 1997-2006
The Revd Michael John Robinson BA
Michael was ordained priest in Sheffield Cathedral in 1980. He had pursued a career in teaching after gaining a degree in theology at Nottingham University. After being selected for ordination he left teaching in1978 and the whole family, wife Gill and children Fiona and Timothy, moved to Lincoln where Michael studied for the ministry at Lincoln Theological College for one year. After ordination he served as Curate at All Saints Aston-cum-Aughton and then at Rotherham Parish Church.
In 1982 Michael was appointed Team Vicar in the Howden Team Ministry in what was then Humberside (now back to being the East Riding of Yorkshire) with responsibility for St Stephen’s Newport and St Clement’s Blacktoft. These were very rural parishes where Michael loved to stride across the fields to find a farmer to chat to. Whilst there he also worked as part-time Chaplain at Everthorpe Young Offenders Insitution.
Another move followed in 1986 when, after being concerned about the declining health of Gill’s father and the advancing years of his own parents, he sought a position in the North West. Both sets of parents lived in Wilmslow. He was offered St James, Heywood, a mill town in Lancashire, and spent 6 very happy years there before a brief spell at St Stephen’s in Astley.
In 1992 after a period of ill health he was appointed as Rector of St Paul’s Blackley in North Manchester – a very challenging but rewarding parish.
After following David Ashworth to Nottingham University, Lincoln Theological College and Heywood it seemed as though a pattern was emerging and Michael and Gill found themselves at St Peter’s Hale in May 1997.
The ‘job spec’ or Parish Profile as it’s officially known asked for a man with ‘inner peace’. Michael didn’t apply for the job at first as Gill said he didn’t qualify! However after a re-advertisement he did apply and was duly appointed.
At the time there were 5 Readers, Prof Michael Horne, Keith Livesey, Dr. Brian Taylor, Geoffrey Wheeler and Caroline Holmes and later John Moss and Alan Marriott joined the team.
Worship centred on the Eucharist was important to Michael and he changed the 10.00am Family Service on 1st Sunday of the month to Family Communion. Caroline then devised the Toddler Service to replace the weekday Pram Service, taking place at 11.30am on the 3rd Sunday. A Service of Prayer for Healing was introduced on a Sunday afternoon, a peaceful, quiet and moving service led usually by Michael and Geoffrey Wheeler.
A major task was to get the much debated refurbishment of St. Peter’s House underway. There was a great deal of blood, sweat and tears but eventually the money was raised and the work was completed. The result is a fantastic asset to the village and to the church community. A party to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Michael’s Priesthood was held in the new Veranda Room in 2005.
With declining health Michael had to contemplate early retirement but he died tragically on 9th May 2006 before this could take place. His ashes are buried on the south side of the church beneath a marble cross erected in his memory.
Perhaps some words taken from Michael’s funeral address given by The Venerable Richard Gillings, at that time Archdeacon of Macclesfield, can best sum up the man and his ministry.
‘Michael had a capacity to get on with folk of all ages and types. Pastoral Care was for him an absolute priority, indeed it was a crucial element in his discipleship.
This crowded church is a testimony to the many lives that Michael touched. It can only be a combination of the hand of God and a remarkable human being that enabled Michael while frequently struggling and indeed being tormented by his disabling illness to exercise such an effective ministry.
Isn’t it true that it’s often those who suffer much who also give so much to others?’