Bishop Stephen's Christmas Message 2023

We wish you a joyful and peaceful Christmas!


Bishop Stephen visited Salisbury Foodbank to thank volunteers unloading and preparing special Christmas parcels for hundreds of households this year.  The Salisbury Foodbank runs eight different foodbanks across Wiltshire, from Amesbury to Downton.

The number of people having to use the foodbank has grown, with more children than ever before in need, said manager Maria Stevenson. This includes people from working families who are being forced to access the services more and more due to the cost of living crisis, she said. The team has provided 69,255 meals so far in 2023, up from 64, 818 meals in 2022. 

The Foodbank will be delivering 200 Christmas parcels of food and festive offerings to those particularly in need, in addition to its usual emergency food parcels, which contain three meals a day for three days. One hundred volunteers support the Salisbury foodbanks.

These include Claire Tunnicliffe and Caron Hitchen, who are part of the Avon River Team of churches on the Salisbury Plain. Claire said: “We talk at Christmas about God being here with us, in Jesus, and this work at the foodbank is about showing people God is with them.” 

Bishop Stephen said it was a privilege to meet those working so hard to support others. 


I’ve been sent into town to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Some of the Christmas lights at home have failed and apparently, we can’t do Christmas without them. And so I’m here, in the busyness of Salisbury city, as across the diocese people are going about their Christmas business, getting those last minute purchases, getting everything ready to celebrate this most important time of year. And yet, I’m very aware that so much happens below the surface, below what we can actually see in public. 

I’ve just been at a visit to the Salisbury Foodbank which this year marks twenty-three, now twenty-four, years of operation and the vital work that they are doing. Helping those who rely upon them for food in these challenging financial times. And these times are challenging, as we know, internationally as well. It’s a very different Christmas this year with so much of concern in our world. And it’s into that world that Jesus Christ is born, the Word made flesh, God with us. And for me, that’s what makes Christmas real and meaningful. That God came to us and shares our life. And in many ways, it’s just as simple as that. That we celebrate these days because this greatest gift to humanity is about God coming and being part of us in our human existence. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas, that’s the real joy, that God is not far away, that God does not, not understand, God here, is with us.

Powered by Church Edit