Bishop John delivers his first Presidential Address to synod
Bishop John Perumbalath made a call for unity in our diocese as he delivered his first Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod last Saturday. His address gave his thoughts and reflections on his first six months with us stating “I have come to a diocese that is united in purpose and focussed on its vision to ask God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference with more people knowing Jesus and more justice in the world. I remain wedded to that vision.”
However, the bishop acknowledged that we are human and have disagreements and differences stating that “I pray for a diocese that is united in Christ who calls us to be church and is at our head” adding that “Unity is not uniformity. We need the rich blend of traditional and new, of all church traditions and theological integrities. If we are to appeal to the wider world.” He added that “Our unity needs to be self-giving; it needs to be sacrificial”
Bishop John recognised that “We minister in a challenging time” and that “We are called to a region that suffers from the unequal division of resources between south and north.” The bishop stated that “while we have injustice, we must speak up against it.”
Bishop John recognised that “We must journey together and one of the things I have witnessed in this diocese is how you have been trying over many years to journey together” He talked about the lessons being learnt and the good work being carried out by Church Wigan before talking about Fit for Mission.
Thanking God for Fit for Mission the bishop commented “I hope we can engage in a different conversation on Fit for Mission. I worry that all we hear about it is the creation of fear and anxiety and not the sense of hope and vision that it is meant to be”. He added that “Fit for Mission is not an initiative but an attitude, a missional response. It is about local people discerning a vision from God of how the kingdom could be in their area. And that discernment has to be a process of on-going learning”.
Bishop John asked “Can we reimagine the parish system to make it work for the 21st century in such a way that we remain focused on our presence in every community while working together for better resourcing across a bigger geographical area? There is much that we can learn from the good examples we already have in our diocese.”
The bishop challenged synod saying “We need to be that church locally formed to meet the context of the community we serve. It is a way forward and a conversation that needs to be had. It can be shaped by good structures and great governance and supported by our diocesan and national church institutions. But it must be entered into at a local level by committed Christians called to walk humbly, love mercy and show justice to the world”.
However he concluded by stating “I want you to feel encouraged by what you have in the Diocese of Liverpool. I want you to be encouraged by the networks of committed Christians faithfully working to the mission of God. I want you to see the enthusiastic faces of the newly confirmed - young and old – as they make their promises to God. I want you to be encouraged by the church communities that are growing, maybe in small ways but growing nonetheless.”