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Bishop Jonathan bids a fond farewell

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How are you and Rebecca feeling as you prepare to leave Norfolk and Waveney?

A great mixture of emotions – gratitude for all we’ve known and shared here; delight in what we have succeeded in being and doing; regret for what is left unresolved; sadness that we are leaving both diocese and county behind. All these jostle with each other as we contemplate this goodbye, and I think they would all be there in some measure, but the sadness particularly is exacerbated by the current restrictions and the inability to say goodbye in person in the way we had expected a year ago.

What are you most thankful for?

We are thankful to God for bringing my ministry to a culmination as Bishop of Lynn. This has felt the right place to be. I have been really blessed in the people and places I have ministered to – starting in a parish in the States before ordination, covering both rural and suburban ministry, teaching in a Theological College in Barbados, personal support for a former Bishop of Oxford and two Cathedral posts.

Here, I think it is both people and places that stand out. I believe that collegiality in ministry at as many levels as possible is key, and I have been given such wonderful colleagues over these years, in the Bishop’s Staff, in parishes and the deaneries of Lynn Archdeaconry, in the area of wider concern I’ve had some responsibility for, and of course across the world in the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea. So many people stand out, but my closest collegiality has been with my fellow bishops here, my own office staff and above all two fantastic archdeacons over these years – John Ashe and Ian Bentley.

What have been some of the highlights of your ministry with us?

I think they fall into two types – the distinctive one-offs’ and the regular acts of episcopal sacramental ministry. Who could not rejoice in the delights that come with the annual blessing of the Mart in King’s Lynn, or before the first performance of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, singing to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in King’s Lynn Town Hall, the Rocking Bishop CD, done for Tapping House, with the support and expertise of Jamie Thurston, being the guest speaker at the Fishmonger’s Livery Company’s Christmas Dinner in London (an opportunity that came my way because I’ve been a Governor at Gresham’s School throughout these years),  the sermon from halfway down the helter-skelter in the cathedral, blessing so many different (and all worthwhile) restored or new endeavours – church loos and school amphitheatre extensions; a variety of churchyards and memorials, and that blessing of the restored lifeboat Lucy Lavers which I shared with Anneka Rice. Along with those have been all the stage performances: pantomimes, radio plays, Nativity and Passion plays and all the Rocking Bishop gigs.

But it would be true to say that the distinctive acts of episcopal sacramental have also been highlights: every Confirmation and every Ordination (whether shared or solo). One of my episcopal colleagues recently reminded us that ‘people, not programmes’ are our chief concern. Absolutely right – the task of ministry in which Bishops lead, but crucially also share with so many others, is to do with being a conduit for the love and sacramental blessing that God seeks to impart to us all.

Being part of that conduit is the highlight of highlights. I have felt it in parish after parish, and particularly at the Winter Night Shelter in King’s Lynn and in front of UEA undergraduates assembled for their Annual Fundraising Day.

Goodbye, thank you, God bless you and keep you smiling – He really does love you and so do we.