Bishop Alastair, the Bishop of Derby, officially retires at the end of August after 13 years of leading and ministering within the Diocese and serving the wider Church in the House of Lords. The process of appointing a new Bishop has begun and this is shared by representatives elected from the Diocese together with those from the wider Church of England, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and two people representing the Prime Minister and Her Majesty the Queen. Such representation identifies the link between Church and State, the needs and hopes of the local context of the Church in Rowsley and the National church initiatives to grow the mission and ministry of the Church within all communities, places of work, education, healthcare, prisons etc.
It was Archbishop William Temple who said that, “The Church of England is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members." The commitment of the local church in Bakewell and Over Haddon therefore seeks to be a community and place of welcome, inclusivity, support and witness to the love of Jesus in word and deed for everyone who lives and works within the community. As Christians who worship at All Saints and St Anne's, we need sometimes to look at ourselves through the eyes of the outsider. Are there things we should stop doing altogether? Are there things we should continue to do, but in a different way? Are there new things we should start doing?
Of course, it is about finding the balance between nurturing and feeding those who are members of the family of God and having a clear view, that can be seen and known within the community, as to what All Saints and St Anne's believes in, how it lives out authentically and honestly the values of Jesus and how the people of Bakewell and Over Haddon know and experience the love of God in their highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and sorrows through the love, care, prayer and support of Christians within our communities.
The change of Bishop is a transition for the Church in an area called a Diocese and as with any change in leadership, there is opportunity to reflect on the best of the past and identify the challenges, opportunities and hopes for the future. A new Bishop won't necessarily impact upon the day to day life of our Town, but it is hoped that they will inspire the local church to be more confident, resilient and open to ways of helping local people to see the church not as a fringe pursuit for a few or a building that has a lot of history, but doesn't speak into the context of our lives, anxieties, struggles and the questions we may have. Rather, for you to know and experience the love of a God who is the source of strength, comfort, guidance and inspiration, with a track record of creativity, forgiveness, power to heal and to renew. Added to this, are the teachings of Jesus that rebalances a view that everything is about being successful, confident, having lots of friends, in control of everything and only being interested in what affects self.
The Gospel of Jesus speaks into the world, community and relationships we inhabit and is challenging, liberating and relevant. It can be heard in the local church and hopefully you can see it being lived out from the local church in the life of Bakewell and Over Haddon.
Every blessing to you.