With echoes of his enthronement service 15 years ago, the Diocese of Liverpool gathered to say farewell to the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones on Wednesday. The service, at Liverpool Cathedral saw a wide array of serving and retired clergy join with congregation members and civic dignitaries for what promises to be a moving occasion.
Important guests were children from every parish, Bishop James was keen to include the young people in the same way as he was greeted by a child as he entered the cathedral to be enthroned Bishop.
Features of the service included:
The Choir singing the Prayer of Henry VI, sung as Bishop James entered the Cathedral at his enthronement.
Readings by Mayor Joe Anderson and the Bishop’s Wife, Sarah
Bishop James delivered his final sermon.
Prayers were led by ecumenical partners and there were symbols presented representing different facets of the Bishop’s ministry. These include the Hillsborough Book of Remembrance, a book of Psalms, and the Prisoners Prayer
Amongst others there were tributes from the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, the Bishop of Warrington, Bishop Shannon Johnston from Virginia and Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly
During the service the diocese were given a specially commissioned portrait of the Bishop which will hang in Bishop’s Lodge alongside those of his predecessors. The painting, paid for by private donation, is by Aberdeen artist Nicole Porter. It depicts Bishop James on the Dulverton Bridge of the Cathedral creating a sense of spiritual reflection capturing his approachable nature while reflecting his position as a figure of guidance and authority.
The service drew to a close with Bishop James handing to the Bishop of Warrington, Bishop Richard Blackburn, the Pastoral Staff saying
“Bishop Richard, I hand to you this sign of pastoral care and oversight in the diocese of Liverpool. May God surround the people of this diocese with his love and fill your hearts with courage, strength and peace now and in the days to come.”
Bishop Richard said “We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Bishop James for the way in which he has skilfully, sensitively led our diocese over the past fifteen years. His gift of leadership, shown in so many ways, is an example to us all and stands as a testament to his ministry with us. On behalf of the diocese, the church, the city and the entire region I thank God for his time with us and pray that he and Sarah are truly blessed as they enter the next phase of their lives together”.
Bishop James said “the word in my heart is simply to say Thank You. Thank you to God for calling me to Liverpool. Thank you to you for your ministry to me. Thank you to my close colleagues with whom in 15 years of working there has never been an angry word. Thank you to my family and especially Sarah without whom I would not and could not have been Bishop of Liverpool.”