Bishop Paul’s opening remarks at the Press Conference, 10th February 2015
I start my first day in the diocese, in this city which is a cradle of innovation. The City and County of Nottinghamshire has made a substantial contribution to our nation’s heritage and economy, and I know it’s building a bright future with a new generation in its sights. It deserves a church that is playing its full part in helping to shape that future, which includes addressing the real-life challenges that individuals and communities face across the region.
It’s a huge privilege to be invited to join an outstanding diocesan team committed to advancing the mission of the church for the benefit of everyone, whatever their culture or background. There are over 300 churches in the diocese already making a massive difference in the communities they serve. And I’m delighted I’ll be working with some very gifted clergy and congregations, along with ecumenical partners, at a time when many churches are experiencing exciting new growth.
I’m convinced that there is nothing better you can do with your life than become a follower of Jesus Christ. This was a decision I made in my youth and, while it didn’t make life easier, it gave me a new kind of hope grounded on faith in God.
The adventure of following Jesus, and letting the wisdom of the Bible shape my outlook on life, gave me bigger and bolder aspirations to make a difference in the world than anything else could have given me. That’s why I’m passionate that children and young people should have the opportunity to discover faith in God for themselves, and while respecting other faiths, we shouldn’t hesitate to allow them that chance.
Good schools can make a massive difference and loving families are vital but when you know that God is with whatever you’re facing there is always hope. I look forward to working closely with schools like Emmanuel and also non-faith schools to foster healthy ambitions in all our young people, especially those from more disadvantaged communities. I’m energised at the prospect of how a hopeful church can help create a more hopeful society, in which everyone has equal opportunity to flourish.
It’s also with this hope that we learn to work closely together with people who are different to us, or disagree with us, resolved to finding new solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing our world today.
For Christians, our engagement with our society must be as cross-shaped as our worship, so that the only thing about which we will ever gladly boast is Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. This keeps us humble as Jesus was humble, but it also reminds us that we are closest to God’s heart when we are with those who are suffering, and as we work on behalf of the poorest and weakest.
Many churches are already doing this through food-banks, local credit unions, debt advice centres, as well as a vast range of activities for children and young people.
As we do this our lives are enriched in more ways than we could have imagined which has been our experience as a family through the privilege of being foster carers.
The church has been serving and shaping the life of this county for over 1400 years, I’m delighted to join the diocese at this time and support the exciting vision that it has to keep growing and make an even bigger difference in every place. Bishop Tony, the archdeacons Sarah and David, along with CEO, Nigel Spraggins and many others, have carried this vision forward with immense energy over the past year and I now look forward to joining everyone in the summer.
Thank you for being here today and I think we can now take a few questions.