Bishop Richard announced his intention to retire during his sermon at the Readers' Licensing service last week. We caught up with him to ask him how he felt about making the announcement.
Why did you choose to make the announcement at the Readers Licensing? Why do readers have a special affection?
Readers have a particularly established and effective ministry in Liverpool Diocese. Working with Spen Webster and Jean Todd as Wardens has been especially fruitful in bringing about many changes in our desire to make Reader Ministry more accountable and fit for purpose, which I believe it now is.
You’re on a tour of Deaneries - why did you think that was important?
This tour is about dialogue and mutual accountability which is something I am very passionate about. Listening to what people think of what we are trying to do in a diocese is an important reality check. I'm enjoying my "tour" because dialogue is a fun part of ministry. It's the essential foundation of trust - without which no Ministry can flourish and be effective.
It’s very much business as usual with a busy diary through the winter – what are the challenges ahead?
I want to be leaving things in good order and saying my goodbyes well. So that will be a priority alongside the inevitable coping with that bitter-sweet sense of hope and bereavement.
You also announced that with Spen retiring as Warden of Readers we will be exploring a different way of working with a new post – probably Director of Lay Ministers – what is that about?
It's about harnessing the energies and insights behind the different strands of Lay Ministry - Readers and Local Missional Leaders (LML) in particular- so that we have a better, co-ordinated approach to selection, training and ministry. We hope that this will lead to mutual support and understanding.
What other areas of episcopal oversight have been important in your ministry here?
I would want to single out 2 roles: Chair of the DBE and Sponsoring Bishop (for ordinands). Both have involved supporting highly motivated teams of people working to the highest professional standards.
The Board of Education has been reformed into a tighter and smaller body and is well placed to handle the complexity and speed required to meet challenges that come around almost daily. I have valued the breadth of wisdom possessed by Jon Richardson and the energetic companionship of Fr Richard - both outstanding Directors who have ensured Christ is at the centre of our Church Schools.
This year we have sent a record number of ordinands into training. Simon Chesters and Debbie Ellison know the world of selection and training to an impressive extent, which gives us a real edge here. Their enthusiasm is unbounded and is, in itself, a great incentive for people as they explore their vocation.
We now have so many in the process of discernment, we are struggling to cope - a plea here to anyone who feels the call of helping out as Assistant Diocesan Directors of Ordinands (ADDOs)
Finally, how does it feel having made the announcement?
To be honest I am happy and sad. Happy to be able to plan more time with family (grandchildren are an increasing presence) and to have the opportunity to do new things and listen to God's calling how to live differently. I am sad to be setting aside a particularly fulfilling part of my vocation and to be leaving friends and colleagues whom I value in a diocese of which I have grown very fond.
Bishop Richard's farewell service
We will formally say goodbye to Bishop Richard on April 21st, 2018 at a special service in our cathedral.
More details nearer the time.
Bishop Paul on Bishop Richard
Along with the whole diocese, I value and treasure Bishop Richard’s wisdom and experience as a pastor, teacher and leader. His humour, faith and clear thinking are precious gifts to us all.
I will greatly miss him as my colleague in episcopal leadership here. But I’m delighted that we can enjoy his ministry for a few months more, and I wish him and Helen every blessing as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives in Sheffield.”