Bishop of Norwich calls for spirit of adventure
The first meeting of the newly elected Norwich Diocesan Synod met at Norwich Cathedral on October 17 and heard the Bishop of Norwich talk about how much the church had changed over the past 50 years and looking ahead to some adventurous initiatives.
Giving the inaugural Presidential Address the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, spoke about how the Church of England has in many ways changed over the past 50 years but in many ways remains the same. Here are some extracts from his address.
“On the ground, the Church of England looks surprisingly unchanged. In rural areas there are far less clergy than 50 years ago, though in urban and metropolitan centres the single parish benefice remains commonplace. Church schools, thought by many to be a relic of a previous generation in the 1960s and likely to be totally absorbed into the state system, are now much livelier and more popular than ever…
“We do not want to make the proclamation of the gospel a scarce commodity discovered in only a few special locations scattered across the wide expanses of our Diocese. We want the good news of God’s secure and unchanging love in Jesus Christ to be proclaimed as locally as possible for the whole population… We cannot imagine this is achievable without a spirit of adventure and risk taking too…
“Nine years ago we launched Committed to Growth. Since then the majority of our parishes have looked at their life and mission and developed growth plans. We need to recast our mission strategy in the Diocese in the light of changed circumstances and challenges...
“Three years ago we faced a very significant financial deficit. We were not paying our way but relying on reserves. A new system for the payment of parish share was proposed and this Synod endorsed it. The response has been more remarkable than I ever dared hope. Last year we more than broke even as a result of parish share receipts rising by more than £½ million. That huge increase has been sustained and further extended…
“All this makes new adventures in mission possible. A new partnership with the Church Urban Fund is leading to the appointment of development workers in King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth. We are in discussion with the Church Army about the creation of two mission centres, one urban and one rural, which we hope to inaugurate next year. We are pursuing the possibility of creating at least one house for young people exploring ordination who will work in our parishes and gain experience and perhaps return to this Diocese after training…
“We cannot be complacent about our finances but we are immeasurably better placed than we were three years ago to take risks for the gospel and to invest in new ideas in mission. We need to re-endow the diocese in new ways so that we can be adventurous in mission…
“We are a diocese blessed by God with great resources – in people, church buildings, church schools and a host of resources, yet we often feel we have not got enough. That’s not a bad feeling provided we always want to do more in mission rather than becoming complacent…
“We must be secure in God but adventurous in serving him."
To read the full presidential address, click here
Pictured above is Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James.
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