A letter to the people of the Diocese


29 July 2021

Dear Friends,

As July turns to August, we want to write to wish you as good a summer as possible in these still extraordinary times, and to thank you, again, for your ministry, your prayer, and your faithfulness during these pandemic months.

We realise that travel is still restricted, that the Covid-19 virus is still active, and that lives have been marked by infection and by loss. We know that the workload that you have carried during lockdown has now mutated into a different kind of workload, as we catch up with pastoral offices such as baptisms and marriages, and as we try to make good decisions about recovery and rebuilding. We are also very mindful that Diocesan Synod’s overwhelming endorsement of Resourcing Sustainable Church - A Time to Change Together means that over the next few months, and especially into the autumn, there will be further reflection to undertake and decisions to make, as we build our future together.

For all these reasons, we hope that, wherever possible, you will take time over the next few weeks to relax and to recharge. Please be as kind to yourself, to your loved ones, and to each other, as you can possibly be. We know that holidays away from home may not be achievable - indeed, all three of us are essentially having ‘staycations’ this year - but we do hope that you will be able to change pace and to do something different, however small that may be.

In saying ‘thank you’, and in urging us all to rest where possible, we also want to say that we are excited about the autumn. We know that there are mountains to climb, but we are confident of the people who will be climbing them with us, if we can put it that way! Bishop Christopher will be preparing to lay down his staff of office, and will be taking his gradual farewell of the diocese. Bishops David and Nicholas, with Bishop Nigel, will be continuing to hold pastoral responsibility, as well as discharging their other commitments, for example to safeguarding and education. We will say farewell to Archdeacon Mark, with huge thanks for his ministry among us - meaning that Archdeacons Justine and Gavin will acquire greater responsibility and an even heavier workload. We are very grateful to them for all that they do.

Meanwhile, the Time to Change Together implementation Team, led by Canon Aly Buxton, will be getting into its stride, helping us all to implement the Recommendations that were agreed by Synod and to make good the Commitments that sit alongside them: to care, to look for growth, to reflect on God’s generosity, to seek always to work as one.

So there is much to which we can look forward! - But for this moment, in the words of the psalmist, may we ‘rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him’ (Psalm 37.7).

And may God bless you and all whom you love, this summer and always,