Harrogate's town centre church welcomes fresh new face

The new reverend Alan Garrow. Picture; Adrian Murray
The new reverend Alan Garrow. Picture; Adrian Murray

Nearly a year after the vicar of the town’s landmark church announced his departure, a man ready to step up to the plate has been appointed.

Alan Garrow will take over the position at St Peter's Church from former minister, Canon Tony Shepherd who served the town centre church community for 27 years.
Originally from London Mr Garrow, 48, will be making the move to Harrogate from Sheffield, with his wife, Emma and two young children.
He said: “I want to enjoy being part of this church and it is obvious that Tony has done an amazing job - it’s daunting to follow someone with that kind of record it really is but he has created something which I really look forward to being part of.”
Splitting his time between his ministerial duties and being a full time researcher, Alan says he has spent his life marrying the practical and theoretical aspects of religion.
But despite acquiring a PhD in theology from Oxford University during that time, Mr Garrow is adamant that his journey to become a minister was grounded in failure.
He said: “When you give your life to being a vicar it has to be a no regrets commitment and I just know I couldn’t have done anything else. I tried to do other things and it didn’t work out at all, I left school with very few qualifications I was genuinely unsure what to do.
“It was tight place to be in but I did have a very strong commitment to following Jesus and so I applied to do theology at a little bible college near where I lived and I discovered I was really good at that. ”
After studying for his BA at London Bible College, Alan was ordained at 26 before going on to do his Masters and PhD at Oxford as well as a four year curacy in between.
Now he hopes his research will allow him to bring something new to St Peter’s.
He said: “I’m hoping that I can bring together my theological studies with the practice of what I do to give an extra richness to what they do already rather than thinking I’m going to change this that and the other.”
Despite spending 16 years of parish work in three different churches, this will be highest level of responsibility in any ministerial duty he has taken on.
But with his new role starting fully on April 7, Mr Garrow is ready to take the leap of faith and stand up to the job.
He said: “It’s exciting and daunting at the same time because you are walking into something which is a great deal bigger than you can possibly get your head around for quite a long time so you don’t know where the joys and the terrors are going to be, but it’s an act of trust.
He joked: “I’ve avoided responsibility for 23 years and the time has come to step up.”