The second article in our series looking at their work and calling of our Assistant Bishops. This week we hear from Bishop John Goddard.
Firstly, we asked Bishop John what his take was on the role of the Assistant Bishop. "I hope, as assistant bishop in Liverpool to be a resource at the disposal of the diocesan Bishop Paul and the parishes. Having received Bishop Paul's delegated authority I will welcome the opportunity to serve where requested by him or others."
Bishop John accepted the role in our diocese with the hope that "under Christ I will be able to bring both my gifts and experience in wider ministry over 45 years to His service in Liverpool diocese. I hope such experience and gifts will complement those of the other bishops, as we work together for the proclamation of the gospel."
Over the past 45 years, Bishop John's ministry has been varied and diverse. "I have served in UPA parishes, team ministries, been the Vice Principal of a theological college and latterly Bishop of Burnley (14 years). I have loved working in all contexts particularly in the UPAs and have regarded it as a wonderful privilege. In varied parts of the country congregations in which I have shared have been blessed with growth, developed collaborative and shared mission and ministry and grown in spiritual depth and worship."
When asked about the highlights of his ministry, Bishop John said "So difficult to choose! The occasions of ordination to deacon, priest, bishop: the cut and thrust of parish ministry (where my heart has always been); the sharing of joys and tragedies with God's people. As Bishop of Burnley working with parish priests and those of goodwill to oppose discrimination and racism in Burnley and working closely with those of other faiths, especially Islam. Perhaps the best is sharing in Eucharistic worship and mission activity with so many people of diverse traditions."
Talking of the changing role of bishops, he observed "As a 23 year old deacon in 1970, I rejoiced in the care of bishops and archdeacons at a distance! I have always felt the parish priests and their people were the key workers and I love just getting on with the ministry, growing the church and serving the community. Over the last 14 years, I fear for the creeping style of managerial governance, which I do feel has, at times, undermined the competence and confidence to act boldly of parish clergy. Godly management is good, clear coordinated diocesan strategy is good, but a light touch is best. A sentence I often use as to priest and people, but it applies very much to bishops is that the bishops I hope are there to liberate the priest and people to be effective in their ministry and mission and trust them to get on with it, thus readiness to give permission, encouragement and support is key.
What of the challenges then? "Clearly the implementation of the Five Principles regarding women's ordination will affect how we continue to grow in unity and mutual support, so that all the church may flourish. The massive changes coming to our urban areas in relationship to wealth and re-organisation require the church to continue to have a strong bias to the poor and vulnerable. The restructuring of national and diocesan context for parochial ministry is key and though finance is a tool here, our vision is more important. Looking forward to my engagement in Liverpool, I just want to make myself available to share, to perhaps develop spiritual direction if asked and I await with expectation."
Finally, we asked Bishop John what he does to relax? "I enjoy messing about on boats, I have a 45ft canal narrow boat, an old thing which I have almost got up to scratch, continuing to work on my Morris Minor; my engagement as an honorary curate in the parish of Tarleton and Rufford and sharing in the social life, never mind helping my wife with her garden!"