Bishop John announces his retirement

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FAREWELL-webThe Bishop of Oxford has announced his retirement later this year.

Bishop John will retire on 31 October 2014 after more than seven years in post. He will be 66.

“This has been a hugely difficult decision to make, but I believe it is time for a new chapter,” he said. “There will be plenty of time for goodbyes before then, but for now I just want to say what a great privilege it has been to serve the Diocese of Oxford since I arrived in 2007.”

The Diocese will have the chance to say goodbye to Bishop John at The Grand Day Out on Saturday 20 September which is taking place in and around the Cathedral in Oxford. The Grand Day Out is the third of the 2014 “Imagining Faith” series, which started with the clergy conference in March and continues with the LLM conference in June.

“This is a day for the whole church family from our three counties,” says Canon Dr Michael Beasley, Director of Mission, who chairs the planning group.

“We don’t often get together – but this occasion offers a great opportunity to gather in one place, to give thanks for Bishop John’s ministry among us, and to celebrate as a diocesan family as we think about our onward journey. There’ll be prayer and worship, a feast of different activities and the chance to join in a massive picnic on Christ Church Meadow. We’ll end with a huge open-air Eucharist.”

Speakers include TV cook Mary Berry, CEO of World Vision Justin Byworth, and ceramicist Emma Bridgewater – all of whom have been asked to reflect on the theme of “imagination”. People will be able to join in with pilgrimage, try out geo-caching, take part in Messy Fiesta and hang out at the “Living the Difference” café.

“What we are aiming for is a Grand Day Out for young and old alike,” said Michael. “If you come, you will be invited to explore faith through prayer, the creative arts, contemporary culture, social enterprise, climate change and the natural world – and to have fun together.

“We’ll be fed by the God who’s the source of our Living Faith.  And I hope we’ll return to our churches and communities with thankful hearts for all that Bishop John has given us, and with our imaginations inspired for the future.”

“Do come,” said Bishop John. “The Grand Day Out falls part way through the Thames Pilgrimage (see page 11), because of course the journey continues. I hope to see as many of you as possible at Christ Church or on the Pilgrim Way so that I can say goodbye and thank you for travelling with me over the last seven years.”

The full programme for the Grand Day Out will be printed in the July/August Door. There’s no charge for taking part in the Grand Day Out, but please note that in order to attend, you need to register. See www.oxford.anglican.org/imaginingfaith or phone 01865 208200.

Bishop John’s letter to the diocese

Dear Friends

I’m writing this special Enews to let you know that I’ve decided to retire at the end of October this year. I do this with very mixed feelings, inevitably. The ‘Imagining Faith’ clergy conference was such a positive experience and the diocese is full of so many good things that it seems somewhat crazy to leave something I’m enjoying so much. The truth is there’s never a good time to go.

I came to Oxford when I was 59 (I was a late developer). So I’ve been here for seven years and found it an enormous privilege, full of fascination and a lot of fun. But I’ve been ordained now for 42 years and have been going at a fair pace for pretty well all of that time. It seems only fair to Wendy and the family to give more time to them and to a slower pace of ministry.

I also feel the diocese is in good heart.  We’ve gathered an excellent Bishop’s Staff team, reshaped for more effective support of our mission. Living Faith is well embedded and has proved to be an effective framework, ready to be reworked for a new phase. The diocese is packed full of fine clergy and wonderful lay people, and the mission is going forward imaginatively and energetically in our parishes, benefices and schools.

Nationally, the education work has taken up much more time than I imagined, but I think it’s going well and can be transferred with relative ease to another bishop, as can other responsibilities.

Bishop Colin, being youthful and sprightly, is well able to be acting-Diocesan, although we need to remember he has also just taken on responsibility for four new deaneries. Details of arrangements for the vacancy and the process of discerning who should be the next Bishop of Oxford will follow later; for the moment I just wanted to let you know this news and to assure you that I shall be working with full commitment right through to the end of October.

For the record we will be retiring to Richmond in north Yorkshire, halfway between daughters in London and Edinburgh, near to the Dales, York and Durham. But much of my heart will remain with the wonderful Diocese of Oxford.

With love in Christ

+John

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