Message from Bishop Robert, 18 January 2022

Published: January 18, 2022

Bishop RobertFor both Bishop Rachel and I, with Archdeacons Phil and Hilary, one of the most significant parts of our ministry is devoted to working with our parishes and communities in the appointment of new clergy. It is demanding but immensely satisfying, as we work with parish representatives and patrons in discerning together the right person to lead, collaboratively, a community on the next stage of its journey sharing the love of God in Jesus Christ and working for the Kingdom.

I don’t think I am giving away much of a secret when I share with you that one of the questions we often ask of candidates is what they believe to be at the heart of the Gospel. Nearly always it is an answer that takes us, by one root or another, to the cross, to the tomb and to the Easter garden, from the darkness in which Jesus cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, to the words of Mary Magdalene on Easter morn “I have seen the Lord”. This is the good news we share of new life in Jesus Christ!

There will be other questions, and some of those will vary according to context, but one that will also always be present will be around the practice and priority of safeguarding. This is part of our commitment as a Church, alongside our appointment processes, to safeguard young people and vulnerable adults and create positive, welcoming, and safe environments for all to flourish. This is not just for clergy of course but safer practices are needed for key posts, paid and voluntary, in parish, deanery, and diocese.

These two questions, reflecting on the heart of the Gospel and the priority of safeguarding are, I believe, firmly connected. An intrinsic part of our commitment to sharing the love of God is to ensure the wellbeing of all in our care and to keep the young and the most vulnerable safe. Working for the coming of the Kingdom is about our commitment to creating a Church and a world in which those in positions of responsibility are focussed on the good of others, recognising the duty we have to protect and care for those who, like us, are made in the image and likeness of God.

The sad truth, in a broken world, is that we have, as a Church, failed in our safeguarding, which is why we are working so hard to put the proper processes in place and why it is so important that together we all, wherever we are in the wider Diocese and in our parishes, working with paid employees and volunteers, commit to following them. Doing this is an essential part of our seeking to change our culture and work for the vision of the Church as God would have us be, which takes us back to the call to share the love of God and work for the coming of the Kingdom.

These two questions really are interconnected. Taken together they are a spur to challenge us in all of our work to change us into a Church that truly reflects the life that is in Jesus Christ. There’s lots of information on the diocesan website safeguarding pages. Please do get in touch with the team if you have any questions.

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