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Beyond the Present

by Michael Ford last modified 23 Oct, 2020 05:18 PM

Bishop Nicholas has spoken about the “tumultuous times” we are living through.

The Bishop was giving his Presidential Address to the October Diocesan Synod, which took place via Zoom.

Read the text here and watch footage here.

He told Synod members:

“There is a lot going on in the nation, with Covid-19 and all its personal, healthcare, economic and social implications; with Brexit, climate change and the ecological crisis, and the increasingly apparent gap between richest and poorest, this is a tumultuous time to navigate.”

He said: “Beliefs and values are being tested.”

“We live in strange times and the coronavirus is not going to go away quickly. It is certainly going to be with us through the winter and some. The economic consequences are becoming more apparent.

“Quite a few commentators are saying that one consequence is that changes that were happening steadily are speeding up. That seems true of church life. Patterns of church going have changed and who knows if they will come back?”

He said he recognised the “imaginative and creative ways” in which many of our churches were adapting to these new circumstances:

“Many have developed an online presence very quickly. Many are at the centre of their community responses to care for those in most need.”

But he added:

“Questions are now emerging about whether we can or should want to continue as we were or whether we need to grasp the moment and make some fundamental changes to the way we are organised locally, as a diocese and across the country that will help us to live a Christian life in this time and place so that we and our successors stay close to the kingdom of God.”

Bishop Nicholas said that he, Bishop Andrew and Bishop Karen were embarking on a series of episcopal visits by Deanery. The idea was to “keep in touch and have a conversation about the way we see things unfolding”.

He ended his address saying:

“In all of these things as a Diocese we are fortunate not need to make a knee-jerk reaction but we do need to keep gathering the information and navigate tumultuous times.

“As we do, we can to sustain Christian worship, ministry and mission, ask questions of our circumstances and keep our eye on the need for a balanced budget within 5 years.

“There’s no question we are in a process of change that will shape the Church for a long time to come.

“One of the reasons Christianity is a great missionary religion is because in the incarnation God came among us in Jesus Christ and Christianity has taken root in every time and every place. As one of the visiting Primates said at General Synod in February, in a crisis it’s easy to lose your direction.

“Loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself will keep us close to the kingdom of God.”

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