“40 years seem a good stint”
Bishop Jonathan, 66, formally announced his retirement at a meeting of the College of Canons at Lichfield Cathedral this afternoon. He will leave office in September 2015.
In a video message, Bishop Jonathan said: “Forty years of ministry seem a good stint to Jane and me.”
“It is with great mixed feelings that I make this announcement. But Jane and I know that, much as we will find it difficult to leave your love and prayers, it would not be right to continue much longer.”
The Right Reverend Jonathan Gledhill was installed as Bishop of Lichfield in 2003. He is the 98th Bishop of Lichfield in a line going back to St Chad in 669 AD. Educated at Keele University, he enjoyed twenty years of ministry in Kent before becoming Bishop of Southampton in 1996.
The Diocese of Lichfield covers an area serving two million people across the Staffordshire, Shropshire and the Black Country.
The Right Reverend Clive Gregory, Bishop of Wolverhampton, said: “It has been a privilege to serve under Bishop Jonathan’s wise and godly leadership. He and Jane will be greatly missed, not least by the many who have profoundly appreciated their care and encouragement. Bishop Jonathan will leave a Diocese in very good heart and well equipped to face the challenges of the future.”
The Right Reverend Geoff Annas, Bishop of Stafford, said: “Bishop Jonathan is a man of great spirituality, humility and integrity who cares passionately for the Gospel and for all the communities that he serves. I have really valued his wisdom and guidance and sense of humour.”
The Right Reverend Mark Rylands, Bishop of Shrewsbury, said: “Bishop Jonathan has led Lichfield Diocese with both care for the people and passion for the good news of Jesus Christ. Growing a bigger Church to make a bigger difference in Society has been an inspirational vision – one which many others are now following. Jonathan was the first bishop to help a Diocese be so explicit in this. The sense of us all pulling together and that we are friends, despite our differences, are part of the ethos which he has established.”
Bishop Jonathan will bid farewell to the Diocese on September 5th, at The Goodness of God celebration – a gathering of thousands from communities across the region, at the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich. His final formal engagement as Bishop of Lichfield will take place at the cathedral on September 26th, when he hands over his pastoral staff for safekeeping.
Having more than a nodding acquaintance with Saint Chad, saintly Bishop of Lichfield in the 7th century, I was interested to find this article announcing the retirement, as Bishop, by the current occupant of the bishop’s throne, The Rt. Revd. Jonathan Gledhill, who will be vacating this ancient See in September of this year, 2015.
Church historian St. Bede mentions St.Chad as being a humble, reticent candidate for the episcopate – having been appointed – against his will – as bishop of York, by King Oswy of Northumbria, when the official candidate, St.Wilfred, had departed for France to be consecrated for the same diocese. When Wilfred returned, Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared Chad’s consecration invalid, and he returned to the Abbey of Lastingham, where he had previously been abbot, to live the life of a simple monk.
However, in 669, Wulfhere, the King of Mercia, asked Theodore for a bishop for the Kingdom of Mercia, (the English Midlands) and he sent Chad, who humbly accepted the role as first Bishop of Lichfield. Having been one of several monks tutored by St. Aidan at the monastery of Lindisfarne who later became saints of the Church in England; Chad set in train a succession of godly bishops of this diocese – amongst whom were Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, former missionary bishop in New Zealand, and Bishop Gledhill whose retirement from leadership of the Diocese of Lichfield has now been announced.
Having. myself, once been a resident of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia, at Coventry in the English Midlands, I was thrilled to be appointed to the Parish of Saint Chad’s, Orewa, in the New Zealand Anglican Church, as Vicar in 1983. This was the church in which I was pleased to preside at the Daily Mass during my 11 year tenure, and from which my ministry – and that of the growing congregation – radiated out to cover three other churches; St. Stephen, Whangaparaoa; Holy Trinity, Silverdale, and Christ Church, Waiwera. The spirit of St. Chad helped me to understand the need for the regular celebration of the Holy Communion – from which radiated all of the pastoral and devotional aspects of my life as a parish priest.
Later, during my retirement, when I was helping out at Saint Michael and All Angels, here in Christchurch; I was asked by Bishop David Coles, in 1993/4 to be temporary Priest-in-charge of the Parish of Upper Clutha, in the Dunedin Diocese. It seemed providential that the vicarage was built right next to the beautiful little church of St.Chad, in Wanaka. This, again, became the centre from which I was called to minister to 2 other local churches in the parish. I have always felt that I have been under the guidance and protection of Saint Chad – whose provenance seems to have been a part of my own life in Christ. I pray for Bishop Jonathan and for the choice of his successor.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand