This month sees the ordination of a new group of deacons and priests in our Cathedral. There is a national shortage of clergy, and some of our recent parochial vacancies have taken longer to fill than is ideal, so we rejoice that men and women of all ages, and not least some younger men and women with a whole lifetime of ministry ahead of them, are coming forward to be ordained. Alongside those offering for stipendiary ministry, we are now seeing an upturn in those offering for self-supporting ministry too. We express our gratitude to those in training and to those to be ordained, and our congratulations to our vocations team and those responsible for our intern schemes, as their hard work bears fruit.
Within the diocesan team, I carry a responsibility for the spiritual oversight of financial matters, and some of you will recognise that I was one of the signatories to a letter sent on behalf of the Diocesan Board of Finance to the parishes at the beginning of Lent, encouraging renewed efforts to bring in the level of parish share that our frontline clergy costs and our diocesan growth strategy require. I apologise to any who found the tone of that letter offensive, yet the overwhelming response has been positive and it has been both a relief and a joy to see an upturn in parish share payments, and again I want to use this opportunity to express gratitude for all the hard work and sacrificial giving that this represents.
Clergy and laity alike, we are all called to play our part in the mission and ministry of the church, in proclaiming, by word and by deed, the good news of God’s love for his world. Part of that responsibility includes finding the resources to fund that mission and ministry. Yet we are all called not simply to provide the resources to fund that mission and ministry, but to actively participate in it too. Eastern Orthodox Christians speak of “the liturgy after the liturgy”, the week-long work of God in which we are all called to participate.
May the example of those kneeling before the Bishop to be ordained later this month, whether or not we are there in person to witness it happening, serve as an encouragement to us all to recognise our own vocations, our own calling to be active in the service of Our Lord, spreading his love and peace and joy amongst the communities to which we belong.
May God bless you in his service