THE Archbishop of York will hold a farewell service before taking up his position as a parish priest in Ilkley, it was announced today.
Dr David Hope - the Church of England's second most senior clergyman - dramatically resigned from the role in August last year to take over at St Margaret's in Ilkley.
The 64-year-old former Bishop of Wakefield, who has held the prestigious position since 1995, will take a pay cut of around £40,000 a year and swap his Bishopthorpe Palace in York for a humble vicarage.
Dr Hope will preside over a special service at York Minster on Saturday to mark the end of his tenure as Archbishop.
Church officials said they were expecting more than 2,500 people to attend from all over Yorkshire, along with worshippers from his former dioceses in London and Wakefield.
Towards the end of the service a presentation will be made to Wakefield-born Dr Hope on behalf of the churches of the Diocese of York.
He will then hand his pastoral staff to the Bishop of Hull, the Right Rev Richard Firth, who will take responsibility for the archdiocese until a new Archbishop is appointed.
Speaking today about the service, Mr Firth said: "This will be a joyful, family occasion for the Diocese of York to give thanks to God for Archbishop David's ministry here, tinged with sadness as we shall miss him very much.
"His years as Bishop and Archbishop have been an inspiration to many people of faith and of none, and his decision to return to the life of a parish priest is a wonderful affirmation of the life and work of local churches and their people."
Dr Hope made no secret of his long held wish to return to the "real ministry" of parish life.