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Letter from the Bishop – September 2015

FOLLOW! I have been immensely heartened and encouraged by all the conversations that have been taking place under the overall theme of Follow!

By the time you read this, we will have had most of the Follow! meetings and gatherings. But it is essential that the conversation goes on, so that people right across the diocese can be part of a process whereby we build on our rich Christian inheritance in a way that is sustainable and realistic as well as inspired by faith and vision.

In the meetings, Bishop Alistair and I have been encouraging us all to be thankful for all the faithful Christian worship and witness that there has been and still is within the diocese. We have acknowledged that there is also tiredness and demoralisation around, and that there is no quick fix in addressing the challenges we face.

In this context, we want to encourage a positive response to Jesus’ call to follow him, so that we can grow in confidence in our faith and share that faith with others.

Our starting point is that the Gospel is, by definition, good news. It isn’t good advice. There’s nothing wrong with good advice: we all need it, but that’s not what’s at the heart of our faith. The Christian good news is about what God has done in sending Jesus into the world. That is both very, very simple and very, very profound.

Alistair and I have been speaking personally about what our own faith means to us, and asking the question, “What is the Christian good news for you?”

We have then moved on to think about sharing faith with others. Alistair has given encouraging examples of where that is happening already, and then we have focused on practical steps which can be taken to enable churches to break new ground.

Alistair and I, and our colleagues would love to respond to invitations to participate in ventures where new ground is being broken, where opportunities are being taken to find appropriate, imaginative ways of sharing the Christian good news beyond those already in the gathered congregation.

I finished my own contribution to the Follow! meetings by expressing a longing for us to pray and work for a renewed church, still authentically rooted in Herefordshire and Shropshire, with a fresh confidence in Christ; a real desire to see people respond to the invitation of Jesus to follow him; and the ministry of the whole church to enable that to happen.

+Richard

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