Letter from Revd Simon PitcherJune 3, 2015
On Ascension Day, May 14th, our new Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Martin Seeley was consecrated in a moving service in Westminster Abbey and on Saturday 20th June he will be enthroned, i.e. he starts work, at a service in the Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds. There are a great many expectations placed upon his shoulders, so please pray for him and for his family as they move from their home in Cambridge to Ipswich.
The work of a Diocesan Bishop might be perceived as being similar to that of a Chief Executive of a large company, and perhaps in some of the less exciting administrative tasks, challenges of finance and public duties it is, but that is not the proper context for understanding the role.
Bishops are mentioned in the New Testament. When the young new churches were first starting to grow the Bishop would be a person who was the spiritual leader, the shepherd of the flock. He might have several church communities based around a geographic area and he would be responsible for them all, travelling from one to another, supported by a deacon in his absence. The Bishop therefore helps to remind us that each church community is not an island unto itself. We are united as members of a wider church family. Sometimes the pressures of sustaining the life of each parish restrict our focus but that would be a mistake. We belong to a family of many churches, held together as one at Parish, Team, Deanery and Diocesan level, under the leadership of one Bishop.
The Bishop in turn reminds us that the family of the church is wider than just a Diocese, but is in fact global. One faith, one church, one Lord.
The Bishop also serves to remind us that we are the inheritors of a faith that is well established and long standing, and which is therefore tested and reliable and true. There are many things that claim our loyalty and attention, new ideas and innovations, fashions and trends. In the sphere of religion that can also be so. How can we know what to trust and where to turn for the choices that we make? A Bishop stands in the line of an historic succession that arguably goes back to the apostles, representing the Church of Jesus Christ in every age. The church has preached the Gospel of Jesus ever since he commissioned his disciples to do so. Over the centuries the church has preached the same Gospel, the same faith, the same Lord. Our faith has been tested in every generation and people have found for themselves that it is true. The Bishop therefore helps us to have confidence that we have built our faith upon a firm foundation.
We have not had a Diocesan Bishop, nor a Bishop of Dunwich, for some time now, and that has been a difficult time for the Diocese. Please do pray for Bishop Martin, that he might lead us and care for us all in Jesus name.