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New Year Message from Bishop Graham 

bishop-graham-1The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, has written a New Year Message which can be found below:

Dear Friends in Christ

The plethora of New Year messages reaching my inbox and in the media caused me not to join the gang but instead to send everyone in the Diocese a New Year message of gratitude for all you do

2015 will see both the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.  The Diocese of Norwich was already well over three hundred years old by the time the Battle of Agincourt took place.  Sir Thomas Erpingham was the commander of Henry V’s longbow archers who did so much to gain the victory.  He is commemorated by the Erpingham Gate to the Cathedral.  There you can still see his kneeling figure in the archway carved with figures of saints – twelve female and twelve male saints, a wonderful witness to gender equality in the fifteenth century

We live with a long history in this diocese.  We are not the first generation of followers of Jesus Christ to witness to the power of his saving love in this area.  We know that only too well since our Christian brothers and sisters centuries ago have given us a galaxy of church buildings unlike anywhere else in Western Europe

These reminders that our diocese has been around a long time (from 631 if you trace it back to St Felix himself) could engender complacency.  But I see no sign of it as I go around the diocese.  In our parishes, schools, cathedral, youth organisations, diocesan groups like the Mothers’ Union or the Association of Ringers, dedication to the cause of Christ, imagination in serving him and sheer hard work are all on display.  So too at Diocesan House, in our deaneries, among Readers, Authorised Worship Assistants, churchwardens, youth workers, those engaged in Open the Book or prayer spaces, the story continues.  All this is animated by the clergy of our diocese, the vast majority of whom love their people and are loved by them and work tirelessly to build God’s Kingdom here.  And let’s not forget the small army of retired clergy and Readers who also contribute so extensively to our life in Christ.  Space prevents me listing everyone but there are thousands of PCC members and church school governors, for example, and countless volunteers

The purpose of this New Year letter is simply to say thank you to you all for all you do in extending the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in this diocese.  Many of the organisations and companies sending me New Year messages encouraged me to spend more on the products they were selling.  Having tried to persuade me just before Christmas that I had no time to lose to make my last purchases before the festive season, the New Year of consumer activity was underway as soon as the old one was over.  But before I succumbed to anti-consumerist grumpiness, it dawned on me that the life of the Church is one of festivals, seasons and continuous mission too.  No sooner is Christmas over and the Epiphany celebrated then we approach Lent and live through the passion and death of Christ in Holy Week before celebrating his risen life again on Easter Day.  The mission and ministry of Christ will never be completed until He comes again

That’s why I wanted to begin this New Year by thanking all of you for your part in the greatest mission of all: the mission of Christ in his world.  During the past year alone I’ve visited well over a hundred of our parishes and I calculated not long ago that I had preached in more than five hundred of our churches (with still a few to go).  Everywhere I go I find people faithful to Christ, serving their communities and focussed on prayer and worship.  Recently I was meeting some fundraisers for a major appeal in the county where the hope is that £10 million will be raised over the coming two or three years.  It struck me that in this diocese far more money is raised every year for the work of the Church.  Last year alone the giving in parish share increased very significantly, thus ensuring the continued provision of ministry in our parishes.  And, of course, the task is not concluded if mission here is to continue.  Such generosity is kindled by lively faith in the promises of Christ.  There is much for which to thank God, despite the many troubles of our world at home and abroad

Thank you, everyone, for such wonderful work and witness.  May God bless you richly in 2015

+ Graham Norvic 

reporduced from Diocese of Norwich enews and used with permission