Bishop Graham to say farewell after 20 years in Norfolk
Bishop Graham James will be saying his official goodbye to the Diocese of Norwich on Sunday after 20 years in the role and as the longest-serving Bishop in the Church of England.
Bishop Graham will be presiding and preaching on his final Sunday (November 25) of public ministry at Norwich Anglican Cathedral at the 10.30am Sung Eucharist and a Farewell Evensong for the bishop and his wife Julie at 4pm. All are welcome to attend the service to thank them both and pray for God’s blessing upon them.
Over the past 20 years Bishop Graham has visited every benefice, and preached in more than 500 different Norfolk churches, ordained more than 400 new deacons and priests and confirmed many thousands of people into the Christian faith.
In February 2018 he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his episcopal consecration, having celebrated 40 years of priesthood in September 2016.
In an interview with the EDP, Bishop Graham said he loves the beauty of his diocese – but is not blind to its problems.
“It is one of the reasons so many Christian groups are involved in ministering to people with drug and alcohol addictions,” he said. “We offer not to convert them but to connect as humans. In that cold weather last year, the people of Norwich’s St Peter Mancroft church were an amazing witness.
“The whole point of a God who becomes a human being and suffers death on the cross as a common criminal is that there is no degradation he hasn’t felt himself,” said Bishop Graham. “However terrible you feel about yourself, however bad things become, he’s been there.”
He has worked with groups tackling drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, addiction, rural isolation and relationship breakdown, and has also been able to pass on the welcome given to him. He wanted Norfolk to be a place of sanctuary for families fleeing death and devastation in warzones including Congo and Syria. “There is that great tradition of welcoming strangers which goes so deep in our history that it still a place of hospitality,” Bishop Graham told the EDP.
He also helped create the Norfolk Community Fund which now has a £20 million endowment aimed at helping Norfolk people for years to come.
“Although there are not lots of people clamouring to get into church, the Christian faith is very much alive,” said the man who arrived in Norfolk saying he was here to ‘keep the rumour of God alive.’
“You long for some massive spiritual revival but you need to be reminded that it’s God’s church, not your church and you are there to help him.”
Bishop Graham, who once appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the country’s youngest bishop, said his faith has been strengthened rather than shaken over the years. “I’m more confident in God and his love now than I was when I was first ordained,” he said.
Read more of the EDP interview with Bishop Graham here