Bishop leads church service to welcome home parish priest

Bishop Graham James, Bishop of Norwich attending the service at Sidestrand Church on Sunday with Rec

Bishop Graham James, Bishop of Norwich attending the service at Sidestrand Church on Sunday with Rector, David Roper who has just returned from the Falkland Islands.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A parish priest has been welcomed home from the Falkland Islands at a special service led by the Bishop of Norwich.

Bishop Graham James, Bishop of Norwich attending the service at Sidestrand Church on Sunday with Rec

Bishop Graham James, Bishop of Norwich attending the service at Sidestrand Church on Sunday with Rector, David Roper who has just returned from the Falkland Islands.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Canon David Roper has returned to the county, where he began his career in ministry, as rector of the Poppyland group of parishes in north Norfolk

Worshippers filled Sidestrand Church to hear the Rt Rev Graham James preach the sermon.

Bishop Graham praised Canon Roper for his 'fantastic work' since taking up his new role in November.

After spending a year in the Falklands, Canon Roper expressed his 'delight' returning to Norfolk with wife Chris.

He said: 'It is really good to be back and we feel comfortable and at home here. We live in a beautiful village in a lovely part of the country and are really delighted with the enthusiasm with which we have been welcomed.

Canon Roper, who served in the RAF for 23 years, was ordained in 1995 and served at Old Hunstanton and Brancaster before being appointed curate for Dereham and Scarning.

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He later moved to Kent before taking up the role of rector at Christ Church Cathedral in the Falklands' capital Stanley.

Serving in the South Atlantic, Canon Roper covered the largest parish is the Anglican community made up of 720 islands as well as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

'The Falklands is unique I got around in a 4x4 vehicle and by flying,' he said.

'The residents there are not particularly religious but need to know the rector cares about them - it is less church centred, more out in the community.'

Part of Canon Roper's role included commemorating the anniversary of the Falkands conflict in 1982 which saw Argentine forces expelled from the British Overseas Territory.

The service was followed by a coffee and cakes at Sidestrand Hall School where Canon Roper and Bishop Graham chatted with parishioners.

Bishop Graham said: 'There are 640 churches in the diocease and this was one of the few I had not visited.'

And he added: 'It is lovely to see so many people coming to the service and the school.'