In visits to each of the Episcopal Areas, Bishop Nick has been highlighting the changes that the Church of England will be faced with in the coming years.
He’s performing the annual Visitations (usually undertaken by the Archdeacons) in which all churchwardens are formally admitted to office.
He says, “I’ve chosen to do the Visitations this year as it enables me both to thank the churchwardens for what they do and to underline the importance of the role. It also gives me the opportunity to address the clergy and lay workers in each Episcopal Area”.
So far he’s visited Ripon (Ripon Cathedral) and Leeds (St Michael’s Headingley).
(Left: Elizabeth Fawcett, Miriam Cloughton & Tricia Selby before their swearing in as churchwardens at Ripon Cathedral. Picture credit, Betsy Everett, Richmondshire Today )
At both events he explained that, largely because of retirements, the number of ordained stipendiary clergy in the Church of England is set to fall by 40% over the next ten years. Although more people are actually being ordained, the numbers won’t compensate for future losses.
He said, “In the Diocese of Leeds we’ll need to think afresh how we are to resource our parishes with both clergy and lay ministers into the future. Inevitably, the role of clergy will need to change as will our approach to pastoral reorganisation.”
The church, he said, was in a period of transition and challenge and meeting obligations with diminishing resources was not easy. The biblical example of Moses leading the Israelites out of captivity, the subject of one of the Bible readings, showed how such challenges could be met: “It suggests we are in it together – not to find quick and easy solutions to complex developmental and resource questions but to work out together how best to go forward”.
Bishop Nick will be visiting the other three Episcopal Areas on May 11 (7.30pm, Bradford Cathedral), 17 (7.30pm Halifax Minster) and 18 (7pm Wakefield Cathedral).