Let me start with an admission: I am delighted but, yes, slightly terrified to be the next Bishop of London.
I have spent 32 years of my life in London so, for me, this will be returning home.
London is a world-facing city – multi-cultural and multi-faith.
It is a city of energy and diversity. London is open to all.
But it is also a city of inequality and deprivation. A typical woman in Tower Hamlets in east London will live 30 years in poor health, compared to only 12 for a man in Enfield further north.
It is a city where the number of people living alone will rise by over 50% in the next 25 years.
And it is a city where people feel ignored, marginalised and angry.
These emotions were present in St Paul’s last week for the Grenfell National Memorial Service. People stood together to remember those who died, to support the bereaved and offer a way forward for those who survived.
But the unity we witnessed doesn’t mean those issues have been resolved.
Although the time when people described themselves, by default, as Christians may be over, there is a huge hunger for spirituality and new ways for the Church to meet that hunger.
Perhaps nowhere in the country is that more evident than in London.
The Church of England wants to be a Christian presence in every community – confident in prayer; speaking about and living out its faith; working creatively with the people around. This diocese is halfway towards its target of creating 100 new worshipping communities by 2020. Many congregations are growing and planting. Just last month London’s first entirely new parish church for 40 years, St Francis, opened in Tottenham.
And just like London itself, the Church here reflects a real diversity of traditions and outlooks. I hope and pray that everyone can find a spiritual home within it and that this diversity can be a model of unity to the whole Church of England.
I made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a teenager. As one hymn puts it, I found in him my Star, my Sun. I look forward to sharing that good news with others as I come to London.
Before becoming a priest, I was a nurse and then the Government’s Chief Nursing Officer for England. People ask what it is like to have had two careers. I reply that I have always had one vocation – to follow Jesus Christ, to know him and to make him known.
For me that means living in the service of others.
Washing feet is a powerful image which has shaped my life.
As a nurse, the way we wash feet affords dignity, respect and value. As a priest I am called to model Jesus Christ, who took off his outer garments and washed his disciples’ feet, even the one who would betray him.
I keep that model of service before me, seeking to serve others and value them.
To be able to do that here is a wonderful privilege.
Many blessings on your next adventure. We will miss you very much..I have especially appreciated your consistent support for parish nursing. We share the call to the basin and the towel. Awaiting an increase in London based parish nurses very soon!
Thank you xx
Wonderful news for us all, Sarah. Having just sent an email the computer chose as its signature a quote from Jane Austen: “Silly things do cease to be silly if done by sensible people in an impudent way…” Praying for God’s best blessings on the next adventure!
Thanking God for your appointment – trusting God with you and yours in this great city.
Hallelujah! The best news there’s been in the Church of England since the decision to ordain women: wholehearted congratulations on your appointment. May you be blessed and may you continue to be blessing to all those you seek to serve.
Welcome Sarah – thanks for your mention of The Engine Room where I am Operations Manager. We look forward to you visiting us.. AJ
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God bless you.
Bishop Sarah, it is great that you have accepted to be Bishop of London. Yes, London is a city of inequalities, we are volunteers at Hackney Foodbank and numbers of guests have gone up, yes some of them work for the NHS! Sometimes We feel so overwhelmed. We are looking forward to meeting you in Hackney and to helping you tackle inequalities in this great city.
Congratulations on your appointment. Is there an email address I could reach you on please? I would love to discuss some research with you that I am involved in, looking at mums’ attitudes towards the church, and what night drive more to attend services with their children.
Take a look at the Diocese of Exeter Web Site you will find me there
I’m sure London will very quickly realise what privilege it is to have you serve them. We have certainly felt that in Devon and will work to take forward seeds you have planted and help them grow. But we will miss you!
Many congratulations from a West London parish… It will be fascinating to see if how your original elephant/flea blog post works out in your new role here in London…! It’s a great place to be and we’re very excited for this next phase of ministry. Welcome back and looking forward to being on the journey together…
My best wishes to you from my troubled country. May you find the strength to bolster your convictions and grace for each day.
In addition to wanting to my wanting to sing the Hallelujah Chorus, it was great to hear you on Radio 4 and it felt for me an Advent sign of Hope that God did not want me to miss. Thank you for taking this on.
Congratulations on your being called to this high position. To those who have been given much–much will be required. You have so many diverse skills and life experiences, that will stand you in good stead. Lead your flock courageously, and with grit, and determination. But show love above all.Always remember you in my prayers.