This time last year, I wrote some of my first impressions of the Diocese of Hereford. Here’s an update.
Some impressions remain the same, only more so: what I described as the “heroic, faithful and imaginative Christian ministry being exercised across the diocese, by clergy and laity alike”; the warmth and friendliness which Kay and I experience - I enjoy living and working here more than I would have thought possible, and thank God every day for that privilege.
Then there were the less positive impressions; the deprivation which is sometimes ignored - there’s more of it than I had realised, but also more engagement with it by congregations than I had appreciated.
Last year I wrote of mountains and molehills; to avoid repeating myself, let’s acknowledge storms in teacups.
And then there were two aspects of what we’re about which I referred to then, and which are still urgent.
Money: the new method of contributing parish share to the Common Fund of the diocese - a freewill offering by parishes to be introduced in 2017 - gives us an opportunity to demonstrate real generosity in response to the generosity of God. If we really take this to heart, it can transform our finances, help to underpin growth and to put a stop to the endless talk about money which never really cracks it.
Faith-sharing: I repeat what I wrote a year ago: “I long to see more people becoming Christians”. There’s no quick fix to this and I am not for a moment underestimating all the bearing witness to the Christian good news that there is in what is said and done.
I am encouraged, not least through the Follow! events of the autumn, that a real commitment to the spiritual and numerical rowth of the church is increasing, and I pray that this will continue.
Talking of prayer, please remember that, as the saying goes, “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of’. In the words of St Paul, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
A letter from the Bishop of Hereford