Bishop Nick praises 'northern grit' as diocese celebrates its first birthday

Writing in the April edition of the West Yorkshire & the Dales bulletin, Bishop Nick charts the diocese's progress to date - on the eve of its first birthday on 20 April.

He says, “When the diocese began its new life we had no illusions about the demands we would face, but we also had the northern grit and Christian courage to tackle the challenge head on. And now we are one year old and we have much to celebrate . . . much has been achieved . . ."

He adds that the diocese is still at the beginning of a long journey, and that “our commission to be an Easter people - inspired by hope and not driven by fear - has not changed . . . We follow a Lord who did not shun the hard path to Calvary. We walk with disciples who endured a desperate Saturday  . . . Then we wake, surprised by joy and shocked by the light of resurrection. We are a people of new life. May Easter burn in our hearts as we enter our second year.”

Read the full text below:

Hatching the Easter egg

Happy birthday to us! The Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales is one year old this month. And that year has seen both huge progress and great frustration. A bit like life, really...

When the diocese began its new life, we knew that many important questions remained unanswered, that practical and financial elements of change had not adequately been considered, and that a huge challenge lay before us. We had no illusions about the demands we would face, but we also had the northern grit and Christian courage to tackle the challenge head on. And now we are one year old.

In that year we have seen the appointment of three bishops (I began as Bishop of Leeds in June), a Registrar, a Chancellor, a Director of Education, joint Diocesan Secretaries, an Adviser for Church Growth, and others besides. We have seen some people move on. We have also had some remarkable and committed people work in circumstances of great personal uncertainty to keep the show on the road while we simultaneously - also strategically and systematically - create the new diocese. The Synod has now met twice and there has been serious work and debate on governance, structure and vision.

We have much to celebrate one year on. The five episcopal areas are young, but beginning to take shape. New ways of working and relating are beginning to be embraced. The challenges remain huge - not least with respect to finance and buildings - but evangelism, nurture and growth are at the heart of our vision and planning.

Yet, while all this has been going on, nothing has changed in the fundamental vocation of our parishes, churches and institutions. Our commission to be an Easter people - inspired by hope and not driven by fear - has not changed. Our responsibility and joy to share the good news of Jesus Christ has not changed. Our charge to nurture new Christians - teaching the faith and building confidence in the sharing of it, rooted in and arising from worship - has not changed.

We are at the beginning of a long journey and courage will be needed in the future. But, we follow a Lord who did not shun the hard path to Calvary. We walk with disciples who endured a desperate Saturday, their hope lying bleeding in the dirt of Golgatha. Then we wake, surprised by joy and shocked by the light of resurrection. We are a people of new life.

Thank you to all those who have got us so far so soon. May Easter burn in our hearts as we enter our second year.

+ Nick

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