Bishop Mark: 'Together in Christ, Sharing Hope'

The launch of a new vision for the Church in the Diocese of Chester took another step forward on Saturday 20 May when Bishop Mark shared for the first what he has noticed and what he has identified as the themes and priorities to have emerged from the consultation process, Casting the Net Wide. 

Addressing those gathered at Chester Cathedral and hundreds of others watching via YouTube, Bishop Mark summarised the process and outlined what it was he had noticed and what it is God is calling us to. He began by giving thanks to those who have worked to facilitate the process, adding, "It's just a moving delight to be here today". 

What are we hearing? 

Bishop Mark outlined seven key things that "we are hearing" following the consultation process: 

1. That we believe in the Gospel
2. That we believe in the local and seek transformation
3. That we care about the environment locally and globally
4. That we want to engage young people and the 'disconnected'
5. That we want to do bigger/better/bolder things together...simply
6. That the 1.5m people in our diocese matter
7. That we need to plant new communities of faith 

What is God calling us to?

Later in the service he went on to talk about the four specific priorities that God is calling us to as a Church in the Diocese of Chester and again emphasised the need to bless the lives of the 1.5m people in our diocese through "transformative loving service". 

1. Growing, braver, fuller faith
2. Blessing 1.5m lives, one life at a time
3. Transformative loving service (in practice) 
4. Engaged locally, working together in loving generosity

Bishop Mark said: "When we began this process, I said I wanted between three and five clear targets that we are aiming for. I am a mathematician but it's not deliberate that we've ended up with four which is directly between three and five. I also said I wasn't looking for a strapline, because sometimes those can be cheap, but actually, as I've prayed it through, the phrase that has kept coming back is the one that is about to appear on the screen: that we are called to be a people who are Together in Christ, Sharing Hope."

You can watch the whole event again on YouTube here

What is expected to happen next?

  • June 2023 – The bishops and the senior team are due to finalise the vision themes and priorities before presenting them to Diocesan Synod for agreement.
  • Summer 2023 – Interviews are expected to be held to appoint the Strategic Change Programme Director who will lead us through the strategic implementation phase. Take a look at the vacancy here
  • Late 2023 – The final diocesan vision and strategy will be communicated within the diocese and the first stage of implementation begins. 

The event was also notable for its technical achievement as people contributed to and watched the service via live video links from four different locations around the diocese. Bishop Sam joined the event in via video link from Stalybridge, as did Bishop Julie from Birkenhead. Archdeacon Mike joined in with parishioners in Grappenhall and Archdeacon Ian joined in from Macclesfield.

At Chester Cathedral children from Hartford led prayers; John and Zoe Putman led parts of the worship; and inspiring videos summarising the vision process and celebrating the Church in our diocese added to the occasion. Before the service began, prayers written by members of the diocesan Poetry Break group about the diocesan vision process appeared on the screen and featured on the live stream too. 

After the service, those gathered at Chester Cathedral enjoyed viewing an elaborate display of the comments, ideas, hopes and dreams that people had expressed and contributed during the consultation process.

Before leaving, a few people gave some immediate feedback on the exhibition and what they had heard from Bishop Mark as part of the Vision Feedback Event. You can watch their responses below. 

Page last updated: Tuesday 20th June 2023 12:31 PM
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