I have been in post in the diocese of Southwark for coming up to nine years!
Southwark is a strange diocese. It has a very different profile to say London diocese. I remember +Tom some years ago warning the clergy of the dioceses that there was a danger of major splits in the diocese with traditionalists looking to London diocese and the liberals looking to Southwark. Other senior clergy (read Archdeacon and ‘above’) have said that in Southwark everyone is a ‘minority’.
The new Bishop, Christopher Chessun, has been dealt with an opportunity to change how the diocese behaves and how it deals with the various groups within the diocese. Southwark diocese is made up of three areas – Kingston, Woolwich and Croydon. Currently, two of these have vacancies – Croydon and Woolwich.
In addition with the sad death of the previous dean Colin Slee there is an additional important ability to look at how the diocese works. It means that he has two bishops and a dean to appoint. This could be a real help to ensure that the diocese works better together – I certainly hope and pray that it will be!
Already the signs are promising. The bishop has stated that he wants to see mission at the forefront of the diocese. I am sure that he means diverse mission and not an either/or evangelism/social justice.
In addition the acting dean of Southwark, Andrew Nunn, has indicated a welcome and reaching out to evangelicals and charismatics that appeared absent previously. The Pentecost service next Sunday evening at the Cathedral drew on the help of a variety of people in the diocese including specifically people from the evangelical and charismatic ends of the church as well as the Diocesan Liturgical Committee . I was originally asked if would be on the planning group for this but unfortunately I was in Kenya at the time. Had I been around I would certainly have been up helping.
As it is we have been asked to provide a group of people to help with Prayer Ministry as part of the service. This will be a diverse group with some using more traditional methods of doing prayer ministry but equally will include the way that we do it at Springfield. I have agreed to look to see if some people from Springfield will join in and help with the prayer ministry there. If you’re part of Springfield and have been involved in the Prayer Ministry team and would like to be part of this then please do let me know – it would be great to have a good bunch of people willing to help.
In addition I hope that a number will join with me coming to be part of the service there. I think that it is great to see the Cathedral being seen as open for use by all within the diocese. I hope that we can be encouraging this openness and dialogue.