Published on Fri, 28 May 2021 15:28

  A Pastoral Letter for Pentecost from Bishop Paul – 25th May 2021

Dear Friends,

This comes with my warmest greetings and gratitude for your ministry through all the challenges and changes of the past year or more, now especially focused on restarting in-person ministry and shaping our mission in fresh ways to respond to the new opportunities we have been given.  

It will be some time yet before we are living in a post-Covid world but I thank God that we are a post-Pentecost church and therefore, while we may be wearied by the relentless uncertainty and backdrop of suffering that has filled so many recent days, our hope in Christ is truly undiminished.  Now is a very good moment to turn our attention to the gift of the Holy Spirit, who alone animates the mission we share.  For me, this prayer of the visionary Hildegard of Bingen resonates powerfully:

Holy Spirit, the life that gives life: You are the cause of all movement. You are the breath of all creatures. You are the salve that purifies our souls. You are the ointment that heals our wounds. You are the fire that warms our hearts. You are the light that guides our feet. Let all the world praise you!

In these days we can be praying for nothing less than a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and across the Church.  It is the antidote to self-reliance, which only produces an anxious heart and a fretful activism, rather than the whole-hearted delight in God that fills us with praise and draws us deeper into the mission of Jesus, which is full of awe and wonder.   

It was a joy to meet with over two hundred lay and ordained leaders recently across two webinars on ‘Restarting and Reshaping Ministry’. Following on from this I am going to be hosting with Bishop Andy, two further webinars focused on sharing stories of God at work, as plans continue to unfold.  You would be welcome to join one of these sessions (14th June 7.00-8.15pm Register here or Thursday 17th June 11.00-12.15pm Register here). 

Before then, we welcome the Revd Tors Ramsey as she begins a ministry as Archdeacon of Newark.  There are two occasions to mark this transition to a new role having served as the Diocesan Church Growth & Planting Enabler for the past three years. The first will be a Service of Welcome and Collation at St Mary Magdalene Church, Newark on 8th June.  Tors will then be installed at a Service of Evensong in Southwell Minster on Sunday 13th June.  As you will appreciate, at this time, attendees for these services are limited but we do hope that many will be able to join in with the online service from the Minster, live-streamed at 3.30pm on 13th June.  

It has been a strange time to begin new ministries and we continue to welcome people to the diocese as they respond to a fresh call of God, including those whom Bishop Andy and myself will ordain Deacon and Priest this Petertide.  I enclose some further information about each of our ordinands so that you may hold them, their families and their churches in your prayers as they prepare to step into this new ministry. 

While we are sad not to be hosting the annual garden parties again this year, I am very thankful now to be meeting more in-person and look forward especially to being ‘on the ground’ in a prayer tour around the deaneries with Bishop Andy.  God willing this will be in the first few days after we pass the 21st June further gateway out of the restrictions, though this will not be focused on gathering people so much as being present in prayer. More details to follow.

Finally, again, thank you for all you are doing, for your prayers and your fellowship in the Lord.  

With every blessing,

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The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, 

The Rt Revd Paul Williams                                                                   

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