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Norwich Bishop says church faces uncertainty

The Church of England faces an unsettling time with uncertainty over the Anglican Covenant and women bishops, the Bishop of Norwich told the Norwich Diocesan Synod on Saturday October 13. Keith Morris reports.

BishopNorwich370The Rt Rev Graham James, giving his presidential address, said: “The failure of the Anglican Covenant to commend itself in the Church of England and the continued uncertainty over women bishops means that things aren’t as clear at this stage as I would have expected when giving the equivalent address three years ago.  Add to the mix a new but as yet unknown Archbishop of Canterbury and there is bound to be some unsettlement around.  

“However, I do hope and pray that the legislation now before us at General Synod next month commands a two thirds majority in each House so that women may soon become bishops in the Church of England.”

The focus of the Norwich Diocese over the next year or two is likely to be on matters of more immediate impact within the diocese, said Bishop Graham: “A review of parish share, a fresh focus on our mission programme, the further development of different patterns of lay ministry in the diocese, the review of our training programme for ordination and licensed lay ministry.” 

With reference to the current deliberations over the next Archbishop of Canterbury, to which Bishop Graham has been often linked, he said: “At the moment, for reasons you will understand and which I do not seek, I have to be careful saying anything about the future of the Church of England or the Anglican Communion.  So much is likely to be read between the lines that the lines themselves scarcely matter.”

The simple question, “why did it all begin?” is, believes Bishop Graham, a more fundamental question in our own tired and weary age than we often recognize. 

“There are many people who are attracted to the life of faith, are fond of the Church of England and all her funny ways, appreciate the ethics of the Christian tradition, its social outreach and care of the poor, and find the liturgies of our Church at the transition times in their lives are an enormous comfort,” said the Bishop. “But they cannot quite believe that a God of the whole universe, a maker of the stars and seas, brought all this somehow into being. 

“It is not even that they think the big bang theory invalidates the existence of God.  They cannot see how such a weary world was brought into being by a good and loving God.  The connection seems obscure.  The heaviness of spirit which comes through weariness does not kindle faith.”

Bishop Graham said: “One of our challenges is to rediscover the creative energy of God’s spirit which catapulted the Christian Church into existence at Pentecost.  The discovery of the renewing power of God’s spirit in and through his Church has always been part of every renewal movement.  The dry bones can live.  Whether it is St. Francis of Assisi or John Wesley or in our own generation Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa, renewal comes.” 

To read the full address, click here

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