Bishop Richard has issued a strong challenge in his Presidential Address to synod on Saturday. In his address to Synod he reiterated the good news that growth is being seen across our diocese and across the breadth of our traditions whilst stating we need to be clear about the direction we’re taking.
The Bishop clearly stated “This is not going to be a year when we take the foot off the pedal. This is not going to be a year when we shy from the challenging decisions and deliberations. This is not going to be a year when we stand still. For standing still will in effect send us backwards and will throw away our achievements thus far.”
Bishop Richard reflected on the Parable of the Sower where in Mark’s account Jesus starts and ends with the word “Listen”. Bishop Richard commented that “That is the key to understanding growth. God’s word requires careful listening if we are to cultivate a healthy place in which that word of God can grow and flourish for the sake of the world. Growth cannot be taken for granted and the Parable of the Sower is a realistic representation of people’s response to Jesus’ ministry.”
The Bishop did emphasise the scale and urgency of the challenges our diocese faces. He talked about the need for “mission shaped buildings that enable us to witness and worship in a way that is relevant to today’s culture and respectful of our rich inheritance”. He reflected that we should not make our churches the “comfortable places for us and our friends” stating “The quickest and easiest way to close our churches is to do nothing and wait to grow old gracefully, leaving the last one out to switch off the lights” He argued that we must “grow the giving base. We must maintain our good levels of parish share. We must continue to resource the mission and ministry of all our parishes. We cannot allow ourselves to abandon the tough areas because they don’t have the ability to be self sustaining. We are all part of the kingdom and we must be working to bring the kingdom to all.”
Bishop Richard also strongly argued for the need to develop leaders. He commended the LifeCall initiative and the push for local missional leaders stating that we it is only by having strong leaders will we be able to grow in the future.
The Bishop acknowledged that we also need to grow in our discipleship. Talking about this he announced that he will be challenging every church, school and parish to bring the Bible Alive in 2014 saying “It is scripture that calls us to serve and love one another. It is the consistent message of God’s love and concern for all His creation that drives us to call for social justice. That shows us outpouring our love through the support we give to Foodbanks, to Credit Unions, to debt advice and to the myriad of good works that happen day in day out in every parish across our diocese. And long may that continue.”
The Bishop acknowledged these are challenging times but stated that we should despair concluding “We have shown in our diocese that we have a creative vein and beating heart. We have a unity of purpose and a desire to love and serve. We are a learning diocese. I was asked to share the Liverpool story with the college of Bishops and the story I told was one in which I not only highlighted what we had done, but also what we would have done if we had our time again. I believe this is important. To learn from reflection, to learn from each other, to learn from the past as we reach for the future, and above all - to live joyously, hopefully and faithfully in our present”.
Download the full address 'Will We be in Good Heart' from this page