Retirement of the Bishop of London announced
Our dear bishop, Richard, has announced his intention to retire next year. The bishop has been a great supporter of our ministry at St Giles – here is his message in full:
To all the people of God in the Diocese of London
It has been a privilege and a delight to serve in the Diocese of London as priest and bishop for well over thirty years. I have seen confidence return and church life revive. The recently circulated progress report on Capital Vision 2020 is an eloquent testimony to a renewed confidence in the gospel, more strenuous compassion and more extensive service of our neighbours in the most diverse city on earth, together with burgeoning creativity. At the same time the annual accounts reveal that we have ended the financial year in balance for the tenth year in succession.
No bishop could wish for more inspiring partners in the gospel, both among the clergy and laity of the Diocese. Regular visits to St Mellitus College are also a huge encouragement. There are more than 200 talented candidates for the priesthood training in the London centre of the college, with flourishing work on Merseyside and other places in England and even overseas. Work begins on a hub in Kuala Lumpur this September.
It has been a blessing to serve with a diocesan team of bishops, archdeacons and those who work at Causton Street, whose gifts are so diverse but who are united in their zeal for generous orthodoxy.
For my part, I have tried to follow the example of St Augustine who said, “For you I am a bishop but with you I am a Christian”, and in this spirit I hope you will forgive my many shortcomings in office.
After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement. It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.
Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.
I have received so many signs in prayer and in the life of the Diocese that my period as Bishop of London is drawing to a close. I have every confidence in the Diocesan Team, and in the leadership of our Archbishop in the challenge of renewing and reforming the Church as a servant of reconciliation in these turbulent times.
I look forward to continuing to serve in other roles but it is right that someone who began as a primary school ink monitor should give way to a new Bishop of London more at home in the digital world, and with sufficient time to be able to play a constructive part in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020.
The important things, however, do not change and I shall be praying for you as you seek to navigate into God’s future under new leadership. In the meantime I continue to give thanks for our partnership in the gospel.
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA
Loneliness | A Church Urban Fund Research Report, 2016
A recently-published research report from the Church Urban Fund has highlighted the presence of loneliness as a major form of social deprivation in our communities, and has shown how local churches are often best placed to provide much-needed and practical forms of sharing and partnership.
Loneliness is an increasingly common experience in Britain, the report finds. Almost one in five say they feel lonely often or always and one in ten say they have no close friends. As our society changes and people live longer, move further afield to work and are more likely to live on their own, increasing numbers are living with the kind of chronic, crippling loneliness that affects their sense of self, as well as their physical and mental health.
Loneliness has been defined as the ‘perceived gap between the quality and quantity of relationships that we have and those we want’. Everyone experiences loneliness at some time in their lives, as when moving to a new city or school, or after a bereavement or loss. Some liken the sensation to that of being hungry: as one writer puts it, ’It is our internal trigger, letting us know it’s time to seek company, as hunger lets us know it’s time to eat.’ But for some, perhaps for many, it has become a chronic condition, wearing down their mental, emotional and physical health, and affecting their families, communities and wider society.
Loneliness, the report thinks, is similar to, but is not exactly the same as, isolation. Isolation is an objective state – defined by the number of social connections and contacts a person has. Sometimes it can be a choice where people live contented and satisfying lives. Loneliness, by contrast, is subjective and consists of a perceived lack of relationships.
Loneliness damages a person’s physical and mental health. Studies show that it can be more damaging than obesity and increases the risk of developing a disability. Loneliness also has an impact on our ability to maintain and build new relationships. When we feel lonely, our body is telling us to go and find the human connections that we crave. However, when loneliness becomes entrenched we are more likely to withdraw because our self-esteem has been eroded.
Loneliness affects people of all ages and cuts across the socio-economic spectrum. Young people, perhaps surprisingly, are more likely to feel lonely than those in any other age bracket, often having moved away from the structures of family homes and networks, being unemployed, or by the substitution of social media in place of face-to-face interactions. The most obvious group to suffer from loneliness is the elderly. The way in which our society is structured, with smaller families, two working-parent households and children who move away from their parents for jobs, means that many older people live alone and aren’t often visited by their children or other relatives. 36% of all those over 65 years old live alone (roughly 3.5 million people). A third group are those with mental health problems. More than half of people with depression or anxiety say that their health condition has caused them to isolate themselves from family members. Finally, there are those ‘on the margins’ of society who are more vulnerable to loneliness because of their relative isolation, such as immigrants separated from their communities by language and cultural barriers.
The report concludes with stories of what churches are doing in their local communities. These are often small-scale, regular, quite ordinary gatherings, to learn together and socialise, the kinds of meetings which may well seem unimportant and even trivial to others, but which provide the ‘glue’ so many people need to remain connected. Here, group-based activities have been found to be better than simple one-to-one meetings, especially when people are drawn to share interests rather then simply to while away the time.
So often, when people write off the small, local church as doomed to extinction, they overlook this invaluable dimension of their life which touches not simply the elderly, as we have seen, but people of all ages. Ministry constantly teaches me to respect the experiences of others, which are nearly always richer than we imagine, and to value them. Surely it falls to us as churches, (to others also, of course, but to us of necessity), to recognise the worth of each person and to provide a means, however unimportant it may seem, by which the strains of loneliness may be lessened, if only for a while. The Report is a timely reminder of a genuine and often overlooked need.
Called by Grace
This is the title I have given to an 11am Sung Eucharist we are holding on Sunday, 14th August. I have invited all those I have met with over the past five or so years for the baptism of their son or daughter, their confirmation or their marriage. It may be that some will not be able to join us, but we shall remember them all by name just the same. They are important to us and we need to honour their lives before God.
In other news…
The Buried Treasure Bible Group is not meeting in August and will resume on Tuesday, 6th September. |
First Sunday Giving on Sunday, 7th August completes our season of giving to the work of The Leprosy Mission. In July our congregations gave £408.75, giving a total of £1,411.06 towards the Leprosy Mission so far. Thank you so much for this.
It was good to learn recently that at the Centre Point construction site one million employee hours have now passed without any reportable accidents. It is good to know that the safety of workers has a high priority.
This year’s Phoenix Gardens Agricultural Fair is taking place on Saturday, 10th September.
All are invited once again to a Patronal Day lunch and an afternoon at The Rectory on Sunday, 4th September. The Archdeacon of London will preach at 6.30pm.