Happy Birthday to Us!
Our Diocese is 90 years old!
I’ve been wondering what life was like when the Diocese was founded in 1927.
Recently I read this: “We are all grievously burdened with problems of administration, with
pastoral work or with the mechanism of a modern parish. With these incidentals absorbing
our time, we feel that something is wrong; some of us cry out that we should acquire a new
social programme… still others that we should reinstate the faith in modern terms.”
“That sounds familiar,” I thought. It was written in 1926!
Where, I wonder, will the Diocese be in 2107, in another 90 years time? Not many of us will
be here to know. But what legacy will be leave for our brothers and sisters to come?
This autumn each deanery is to meet with a member of the Bishop’s Senior Staff to think
about just that. Where are we now? Where are we going? What resources do we need? And
how can they best be deployed?
These are far from easy questions. But they do need to be addressed with a matter of
urgency. We need to acknowledge that the world around is changing rapidly, and if the
Church stands still it will be left behind. So simply doing what we’ve always done and hoping
others will join us isn’t really an option. We will need to be creative and innovative in our
thinking about what it means to be the Church in 2017.
For many of us this will involve a sense of loss and a grieving for what has been. Whatever
the church of the future will look like, it’s unlikely to look like the church of our past. For
many people that will involve a letting go. A sort of Good Friday.
But as Christians we believe in Resurrection. And once we have acknowledged that we need
to do a new thing, we can begin to look at where God might be leading us. Where are the
signs of new growth? What might we need to stop doing in order to follow God’s lead and
start putting our resources into areas of new life?
Most 90 year olds enjoy their birthday with a great cake, plenty of candles, a glass of
something fizzy, and their feet up.
We’re celebrating by asking, “What’s next?”
The Rt Revd Jan McFarlane, Bishop of Repton