We need to be restless people, we need to grow restless disciples who are not afraid, and not driven by fear, but have that curious sense of adventure, knowing that we are thrown together with one another into being that people of hope; that people of faith. Bishop Nick Baines, Clergy Conference opening speech: Liverpool Hope University 2016
Bishop Nick opened the first clergy conference for the Diocese of Leeds by telling the gathered clergy that hope should underpin all their ministry and their theology.
He told them: “If hope is to be anything in our theology, it has to be that thing that opens up the possibility of God, that opens up the extraordinary right here in the ordinary.”
And he quoted Jurgen Moltmann: "God is our happiness, God is our torment, God is the wide space of our hope".
It is the first time all the clergy of the new diocese of Leeds has come together in one place – over 400 delegates arrived at Liverpool’s appropriately named Hope University for the first clergy conference. (Ironically Hope University started life as two training colleges – one Roman Catholic on one side of the road and the other Anglican on the other and was brought together with some reluctance and some sacrifice!)
Bishop Nick explained that Penny Lane (of The Beatles fame ) was not far from where they were all gathered and said: “Penny Lane is a metaphor for what we are about – how the ordinary can take on the extraordinary.
He quoted Bishop David Jenkins, the former Bishop of Durham who died at the weekend: "God is God is as he is in Jesus. So there is hope" and he posed the question: "Why do Christians try to narrow down the scope of hope and grace? We must not be driven by fear but we must hold open in the wide space of our hope, the possibility of resurrection".
He said that the conference's unique conversation between Professor Brian Cox and the Revd Prof David Williamson on science, the cosmos and human meaning would challenge how we open ourselves up to wonder, and create a theology of hope fired by curiousity.
He told the clergy we needed a hopeful ecclesiology; one that created the space in which people could find that they had been found by God".
And he added, “We either look like Jesus of the Gospels and sound like him, or we are not the church – that is our remit – we are the body of Christ.”
The first day of the conference heard from the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, and there was a choice of entertainment from comedian Andy Kind and a team from Scargill House.