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Renewing Hope for our Bishop

by Michael Ford last modified 21 Nov, 2019 09:45 AM

Bishop Nicholas has been sharing the things that renew his hope.

Speaking in his Presidential Address at our Diocesan Synod held in Amesbury Baptist Church, he talked about confirmation candidates, new worshipping communities, and the numbers who join us for Acts of Remembrance and our many and varied Advent and Christmas services.

Read the text here.

Bishop Nicholas began by thanking his hosts:

“We are very glad to be in Amesbury Baptist Church, partly as a support to this church in particular as here too was deeply affected by Novichok and the death of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley.

“Most Diocesan meetings since we began Renewing Hope start with the question, 'What has renewed your hope since we last met?' Here are a few of mine.

“Last Saturday evening 45 people from 21 parishes and 1 school were confirmed at a Diocesan Confirmation in the Cathedral. If one of our priorities is discipleship, confirmation is a way to do it. So far this year 502 have been confirmed in this diocese, more than last year, but fewer than the year before.

“Next summer, God willing, I will ordain 14 deacons, 4 of whom will be self-supporting. The increase in those offering for lay and ordained ministry is beginning to help us re-imagine our response to the expected retirement of 40% of our clergy this decade.

“There are 149 new worshipping communities in the diocese alongside the more traditional forms of church. They have an average attendance of 38 though do not all meet every week. Most do not go to church elsewhere, though of course some do.

“On Remembrance Sunday, thousands of people took part in services and ceremonies with a more or less Christian form to remember those who have died in active service of their country and commit themselves to the way of peace.

“It’s not unlike the large numbers who will come for Christmas by which I mean all those services that take place in Advent and celebrate God come among us in Jesus Christ.

“Chaplaincies renew hope but I am puzzled that where there is worship - for example in schools, hospitals, prisons - the numbers are not counted in church statistics.

"Renewing Rural Hope, which is largely paid for by Strategic Development Funding from the central Church, with four Archdeaconry officers, theological resource and training, conferences and residentials have given new heart to rural ministry and mission.

"The Diocesan Board of Education – whose annual report we will receive this afternoon - serves more than the 43,000 children and young people in our Church schools and academies, working with parish churches and leading for us as a ‘trailblazer’ diocese for the Church of England’s Growing Faith in the context of churches, schools and households.

"The Cathedral – also giving their annual report today - provides an iconic focus for the diocese and offers leadership of quality and culture. With next year’s 800th anniversary of the foundation of the new cathedral in Salisbury it gives the diocese stability of purpose.

"All of this and the continuing Christian presence in every community across the diocese renews my hope daily in God’s small miracle of the Diocese of Salisbury.”

You can read the whole of Bishop Nicholas’s presidential address here.

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