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Liverpool is ‘at the front’ declares next Bishop

09 May 2014


South to north: Bishop Paul Bayes, the next Bishop of Liverpool, who is looking forward to working in the diocese - it was the fastest to take up the idea of a mixed- economy Church, he said

South to north: Bishop Paul Bayes, the next Bishop of Liverpool, who is looking forward to working in the diocese - it was the fastest to take up th...

THE next Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said on the day his nomination was announced that he was looking forward to serving in a diocese "at the front of the Church", which "ran fastest" with the idea of a mixed-economy Church.

Bishop Bayes, who is the Bishop of Hertford, in St Albans diocese, was the National Mission and Evangelism Adviser for the Archbishops' Council for six years. His new appointment was one of six announced in the past week: two diocesans, and four suffragans.

On Tuesday, he said: "Ten years ago, we published Mission-shaped Church in the Church of England, talking about the mixed economy of inherited churches, and fresh expressions of church. And we put that out to the 43 dioceses. . . Of the ones that ran with it, Liverpool ran fastest. So, Liverpool's at the front of the Church in the things that I think are really important."

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: "I want to see vibrant and confident churches that are growing in strength and numbers."

Bishop Bayes, who is from Bradford, reflected on moving from the south-east to the north-west. About 45 per cent of parishes in Liverpool are in the ten per cent most deprived in the country.

"Hertfordshire is quite mixed, and some towns have pockets of real poverty," he said. "But the risk is that we become two nations, and the real risk for the Church is that we become two Churches. If we are one big Church, then deployment of clergy moving between north and south should be normal to us."

He had chosen to start his tour of Liverpool diocese on Wednesday, at a foodbank at St Andrew's, Clubmoor. "It's just a fact that . . . the need for emergency food-support is enormous. . . The structures of our society and the way things have played out since 2008 has made a country where this is happening, and that is wrong, never mind who is in power; so the Church needs to say: 'We will help people in need.'"

He was "wholeheartedly in favour" of the facilitated conversations on sexuality planned in the Church of England.

Last year, his predecessor, the Rt Revd James Jones, said: "If the Church now recognises civil partnerships to be a just response to the needs of gay people, then surely the Church now has to ask the question whether or not it can deny the blessing of God to that which is just."

Bishop Bayes said that he supported the House of Bishops' pastoral statement on same-sex relationships ( News, 14 February), including its omission of an authorised liturgy for the blessing of these relationships. He said, however, that the clergy could find "lots of ways in which they can make people feel welcome, without feeling that they have to break the laws of the Church".

Bishop Bayes was ordained in 1979, and served as a curate in Whitley Bay, Tyneside, before moving to London as a university chaplain. He has served as national co-chair of Christian CND, and he his wife, Kate, were involved in the Ecology Party, a precursor of the Green Party. They have three children.

He was a parish priest in the dioceses of Oxford and Winchester before taking up his post with the Archbishops' Council.

Reflecting on the Prime Minister's recent comments about the nature of Britain as a predominantly Christian country (Comment, 17 April), he said: "Anyone who thinks that the Christian faith has had no impact on England simply is not looking".

He continued, however: "The Christian Church has had to accept that we don't have, as of right, a central, top-down place any more, and I think that is good. I think a humbler Church is closer to a humbler Christ.

"We have all kinds of terrific advantages - wonderful buildings, and a place in the House of Lords - but those are not designed to bolster up Christian privilege, but to serve the whole of society."

RC celebration. The new RC Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Revd Malcolm McMahon OP, was enthroned at a solemn mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral on 1 May. Guests included the Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Revd Richard Blackburne, who represented the Liverpool Anglican diocese.

Four new suffragans include Whitby

THE next Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe will be Canon Robert Innes, currently Senior Chaplain and Chancellor of Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, Brussels, it was announced on Tuesday.

Canon Innes, who will be the first of the diocese's bishops to live on the Continent, outlined his vision for a diocese where "people of all backgrounds and cultures are accepted, valued".

At Holy Trinity, Brussels, about a third of the congregation is African. "Europe is seeing a lot of migration from the Global South as people come in search of a better life. . . We want to offer them a warm welcome," Canon Innes said.

Last year, the Priest-in-Charge of the Resurrection in Istanbul, the Revd Engin Yildirim, spoke of the influx of Syrian refugees to Turkey (  News, 6 September). On Tuesday, Canon Innes described the difference that the Church could make: "We had a large immigration of Rwandans in the 1990s, fleeing the genocide.

"Our Church, along with others, offered hospitality and welcome to them, and we have seen and witnessed a remarkable transformation in that community within the stage of one generation.

"Those who came over as refugees fleeing for their lives have children now running accountancy businesses. . . They have shown remarkable determination and resilience. The Church can provide a spiritual home for these people."

Canon Innes said that he was a "great supporter" of women's ministry, but that "our particular diocese has ecumencial links, and works in areas where we have to operate with some sensitivity. . . We areat the sharp end of relationships with parts of the Church for whom women bishops cause more difficulty."

Last year, Canon Innes's predecessor, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, expressed disappointment after the Church Commissioners declined to allocate funding to replace the diocese's seven part-time archdeacons with four full-time ones (News, 11 October).

On Tuesday, Canon Innes said that he was "very concerned" for the archdeacons: "I want to . . . find ways in which I can ease their burden in the short-term, whilst then thinking together as a diocese and with the commissioners about the longer- term future."

Before his ordination in 1996, Canon Innes worked for Arthur Anderson, an accountancy firm. He lectured at St John's College, Durham, and served as a parish priest in the diocese of Durham. He and his wife, Helen, have three daughters and a son.

The diocese of Gibraltar in Europe is the largest diocese of the Church of England. Services are held at more than 270 places, served by 150 clergy, and more than 90 readers.

Canon Innes will be consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral on 20 July, and will be enthroned in September.

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