Sir Mark Hedley clearly enjoyed the experience of leading this year’s diocesan visitation services. Reflecting at the end of a month touring our diocese and holding 15 visitations he relished the chance to see the churches and people, who have up to now been mainly a name on a faculty application.
“I very much enjoyed the experience” Sir Mark told us adding he was pleasantly surprised by the age and number of those attending. There was a good mix of people at each service and a strong level of participation. This left me “encouraged that God was at business in our diocese.”
Having never done this before Sir Mark admitted to a certain degree of nervousness about embarking on the Visitations. But it all being new he didn’t have a strong set of expectations. Instead he was pleased to find a considerable range of services from the informal to the High Mass. But whatever the service he was delighted by the welcome that he received everywhere he went.
Sir Mark found it was a strange experience to preach the same sermon more than a dozen times. He said he drew on his forty years’ experience as a Lay Reader to help judge the mood and he felt the theme of Every Christian Counts seemed to strike a chord throughout the diocese. “What was pleasing was the overwhelming sense of involvement from people. The many testimonies about what God was up to in people’s lives was heartening and encouraging. It is clear that God is seriously at work outside the walls of the church”.
Revd Joan Matthews from Winwick Deanery commented “The service was really good and Sir Mark went down very well with people. Sir Mark’s sermon was excellent and people really related to it.”
It was a busy schedule but Sir Mark was glad he volunteered. Getting round the whole diocese was a delight and it was an opportune reminder that the Diocese of Liverpool is about more than the city. Sir Mark also believes that these services are good for Deaneries to show a unity and to bring a sense of occasion to the church.
“The Registrar commented that no other diocese has the same line up and shaking of hands as we do here. But I think that speaks volume about the type of people we are and Christians we are in the Diocese of Liverpool. It was that welcome and sense of connection that made this year’s visitations such a personal pleasure.”