PRACTISING the guitar in retirement will be bliss for the outgoing Vicar of Rotherham.
Bob Dylan fan Canon David Bliss said hanging up his clerical robes would give him the chance to spend more time playing music, painting and looking after his grandchildren with wife Kathryn.
The popular clergyman, who has been based at Rotherham Minster for the last 11 years, is stepping down next month and said working in the town had been “wonderful”.
Mr Bliss (65), who is retiring to North Anston, said he would look back on his church career with affection and did not regret entering the ministry after a career in engineering.
Mr Bliss’s career also includes a spell as curate at Burntwood, near Lichfield, and one as rector at Todwick for 15 years.
He admitted that leaving would be hard and said a final service starting at 10.30am on July 16 would be emotional.
Mr Bliss said: “I consider my role as one of the most wonderful jobs.
“I want to say thank you to everybody who has been part of my journey in whatever way because whatever their part has been, it was a valuable part of my ministry and my life.”
Mr Bliss worked as an engineer for 20 years before deciding to enter the clergy.
He said: “Many years ago, a friend of mine who worked as a curate asked if I had ever considered the church.
“He planted a seed and it took a long time to germinate but that bthought kept coming back to me.”
Mr Bliss said he was proud of the way that Rotherham Minster had become a focal point for the community and home to numerous events throughout the year.
He said that the way people approach the church had changed over his years in the ministry, with “more things to do throughout the week” but insisted: “The church is still very much alive and active to reach out to all ages.
“There is a lot of work going on to attract young people with different styles of church service, perhaps getting together in more informal ways.
“I think the people of Rotherham love the Minster.
“I feel they own the Minster and are proud of it.
“They have not just got the Minster - we have the Chapel on the Bridge, too.
“These are two listed buildings of great historical importance for Rotherham and the church.”
Mr Bliss said his final service would be both special and emotional.
A Lancastrian who was born in Burscough, near Liverpool, Mr Bliss said one of the major joys had been the “special privilege” of officiating at special occasions for his family, such as the marriages of his two children, Liz and Chris, the baptisms of his grandchildren, Olivia and Emily, and at relatives’ funerals.
The outgoing vicar said tragedies in his own life had helped him understand the emotional needs of people he had supported.
“I lost my parents quite young - my mother when I was ten and my father at 19 - and I have always felt because of that that I have been able to draw alongside people in their dark and difficult moments,” he said.
“Sometimes, it’s just sitting there with someone to let them talk but that’s an enormous privilege.”
Mr Bliss said he hoped to practise his painting and guitar-playing in retirement.
He admitted to being “quite a fan” of Bob Dylan but pledged that he wouldn’t be performing any protest songs.
“I have got a terrible voice,” he admitted.