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'It's been a joy to be here'

by Michael Ford last modified 25 Jun, 2021 02:40 AM

“Salisbury is a great Diocese and the 78th Bishop has found it a joy to be here!” That was Bishop Nicholas’s farewell message to Diocesan Synod.

Making his last Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod before his retirement, the Bishop told members his last 12 months in the Diocese had been an extraordinarily difficult year for everyone and that plans to say goodbye in person had been scuppered:

"I hoped we would be at a sensible staging post in response to the impact of the pandemic so that the way ahead would be clearer, but it is not."

But Bishop Nicholas’ ten years will certainly not be defined by Covid, instead there are many things we can celebrate as his lasting legacy.

Reflecting back on his decade here, the Bishop said there was a a lot to give thanks for.

Especially the Diocesan vision of “Renewing Hope” that he had developed with the parishes and schools which, in the present climate, was still a relevant vision we all need to share:

“When we introduced Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve, Grow we did a lot of work on the meaning of hope which is not the same as optimism. For Christians hope is not about whether things go well or not.

“Our hope is rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It is on the cross that we see our hope most clearly in the God who loves us, made us, sustains us.”

Read the Bishop's full address here;

Watch the video here.

The Bishop said hope would certainly be needed when we looked at how we might address the serious issues facing church finances.

He said the impact of Covid meant we were far from financially secure, but that another legacy - the autumn Generous Giving Campaign (click here) he had left with us as a resource for the local church could really help balance our books:

“If the Giving Campaign is successful, you will have the potential for a creative re-imagining of ministry rooted in the parishes, chaplaincies, projects and schools of the Diocese. If it is less successful, God will still be God and you will still have the potential for a creative re-imaging of ministry.

"The Church will adapt to survive but there will be a difficult and painful reorganisation with cuts that will make it harder to retain our commitment to a Christian presence in every community. The impact will be uneven and the danger is that the poorest will be hit hardest.
"Through our common fund and Fairer Share we can do better than that. I am sorry not to see you through this, but I am confident in God and confident in you and I pray all will go well with you."

Bishop Nicholas also thanked Synod for its support and encouragement for his role as the Lead Bishop on the Environment and for our Diocesan engagement with the Fifth Mark of Mission, 'To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth':

“You’ve done well and we’re all hoping to have to do a lot more to sustain the environment and limit climate change in God’s wonderful creation. We should be doing it for itself alone, but it is also an evangelical imperative,” he said.

This Synod meeting was online and broadcasting from his study, the Bishop thanked Synod members “for what you contribute in various ways to the life of the Church and tonight thank you especially for your contributions to the Diocesan Synod.”

He added:

“We won’t be able to gather in the Cathedral for a big farewell as a final service on 3rd July when I will hand over the care and oversight of the Diocese to Bishop Karen, but as it is going to be online so I can say to everyone that you will be very welcome and you won’t even have to travel to be there.

“Helen and I have received hundreds of letters and cards wishing us well. I am sorry that we have not answered them all, but we have appreciated them very much.

“Thank you for this shared life and work in Christ. Our hope has been renewed, nearly every day. Every blessing on all that lies ahead.”

In return, members of Synod thanked Bishop Nicholas profusely for his service to the Diocese. There is no doubt he will be missed.

Read the Bishop's full address here;

Watch the video here.

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