At times, it is easy for a congregation to think that they are the ultimate point of reference and anything else is of little concern. So, the visit of a Bishop is reminder that a parish belongs to a Deanery, an Archdeaconry, a Region and a Diocese. Each Diocese belongs to a Province and then to a National Church. Each national church belongs to a world-wide international community known as the Anglican Communion. The average Anglican is aged 38, an African, probably under an unjust government and suffering from terrorism! In this network the Bishop is the point of unity between a local parish and its Diocese and the world-wide Church. We find this model in the early Apostolic Church. The Apostles founded various communities and after a while appointed local leaders. We see in the letters of the Apostle Paul a continual interest in these communities in encouragement but also so home truths when things were going of the rails. This is the special Apostolic Ministry and is continued with our Bishops today. Bishop Alison’s visit today is the exercise of that ministry in exactly the same way as Peter, Paul and Thomas exercised in their day.
Certainly things have changed from the time of the Apostles and growth brings with it a totally different set of problems. One of Bishop Alison’s extra responsibilities is the Anglican schools in our Diocese – quite a different set of responsibilities to that of parishes. Another is the care of the clergy in her area and in that she assisted by Area Deans and Archdeacons. So we welcome Bishop Alison today and her care and concern for our welfare and growth.
By common consent in our Parish we recognise that in Bishop Alison we had some who cares for us and our future. Yet, we are not the only parish that thinks that of her – it is the whole of the Southern Region.