15 September 2015
I wanted to write as soon as possible after the announcement that I have been invited to be Bishop of Grantham, both to share my excitement and to request your prayers. While I was able to meet quite a few people on Tuesday 8th September in Boston, Grantham and Lincoln it was obviously not possible to visit the whole of the diocese in a single day.
I would like to thank those who have offered me this new post and to promise you all that I will try to be faithful in my service of the people of Greater Lincolnshire.
Whenever I have moved to a new parish I have made it my first priority to meet people, to listen to people, and to try to discover the heartbeat of the community. Although the task is somewhat larger on this occasion, that is what I hope to do once I have taken up post later in the year.
I do not come with fixed agendas – that would be presumptuous. Neither do I come without ideas or hopes – I have a passion for serving God’s people.
I recognise that the gifts and experience that I have will be offered as part of a team and I very much look forward to working with Bishop Christopher and with all God’s people in the diocese, as members together of the same team – which I take to be the Body of Christ.
My personal approach whenever I have moved, and throughout my ministry in a place, is to seek to put others first. This does not mean, I hope, that I will be lacking in character, or entirely self-effacing, but that my priority is to create in our congregations and churches, communities in which everyone knows that they are welcome.
Sometimes, in order to do this, I have found that I have to limit myself, so that others can flourish. My hunch is that this may also be the case as I become a bishop. If that is what it takes, so that I may be a bishop for all, as I have sought to be a parish priest for all, then that is what I shall do, with your prayers and assistance.
Every human being matters, I believe, because everyone is created in God’s image. Part of our calling as the Church is to put this priority on welcome into practice by seeking to value everyone, including those who are different from us, or whose views, outlooks or circumstances we may find personally challenging. Our common ground is our shared faith. Our age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality – all of which are part of who we are and important – do not in my opinion completely define us. Rather, we are defined by our identity in Christ.
Our world is changing quickly. Populations are moving. The world of work – for those who have it – is radically different from how it was even five years ago. Archbishop Justin has referred to ‘overwhelming change in the cultural hinterland’ in terms of human relationships. In such a context I hope to be a bishop in a similar way as I have been a parish priest: working with others to create a safe space in our churches in which people may encounter Jesus.
My priority, then, is to try to serve you well – all of you – and to do this as part of a team.
I look forward to joining God’s faithful, confident, joyful people in Lincoln, once I have said farewell to God’s generous, open and engaged people in Newcastle.
Yours in Christ,
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