In a unique event, Anglican bishops from seven different countries and four continents are meeting together for the first time in the Diocese of Leeds this week.
The bishops, from Sri Lanka, Sudan. South West Virginia, Tanzania, Sweden, Pakistan and Germany were welcomed to the diocese at a celebration service in Wakefield Cathedral last Sunday April 2. With link supporters gathering from across the diocese, the service included readings, interviews and prayers from different bishops and the lighting of a candle which will remain lit throughout the week as the bishops meet together,
The overseas bishops along with our own five area bishops and Bishop Nick are now on retreat together at Parcevall Hall, Appletreewick, North Yorkshire for five days. They are discussing the challenges and opportunities of their own particular contexts as well as their link with the Diocese of Leeds.
Among the subjects under discussion are ‘Being the Church where we are’, ‘Spirituality and worship’, ‘Sexuality money and power’ and ‘ Shaping our common future’.
The visit will conclude at Leeds Minster next Sunday, 9 April at 4pm as all are invited to celebrate the diocesan links and hear from the bishops following their meeting with questions from the floor during a panel discussion chaired by Bishop Nick.
In particular it will be an opportunity to learn about the challenges the bishops face and the signs of hope they see in their particular global contexts – as well as discovering their impressions of the Diocese of Leeds and what they’ve learned in their time away together. The forum takes place at 3.30pm for 4pm on 9 April at Leeds Minster followed by Evensong at 5.30pm at which Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo from Sudan will preach.
Canon Sam Corley, Rector of Leeds Minster, said, “As a Church at the heart of a vibrant city that welcomes people from all across the world to live, study and visit, we at the Minster are really looking forward to welcoming our link Bishops on 9 April. It's a tremendous opportunity for us to grow in understanding and fellowship as we explore together issues and concerns that affect us all through the lens of different contexts. It will be a very thought-provoking forum.”
On Monday 10 April, the Bishops will travel to Canterbury to meet with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said, “While the current political tendency is towards insularity and self-regard, these partnerships give us an opportunity to look through the eyes of the other. To hear from Christians in very different contexts from our own can both challenge our prejudices and expand our faith. And as these links aren’t merely institutional connections but are based on relationships, we are able to be honest with each other.”
Pictured, left, are front row (left to right): Bishop Mark Bourlakas of Southwestern Virginia, USA; Bishop George Okoth of Mara, Tanzania; Archbishop Ezekial Kondo of Sudan; (Bishop Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds); Bishop John Samuel of Faisalabad, Pakistan; Bishop Åke Bonnier of Skara Sweden; Bishop Dhilo Canagasabey of Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Senior Matthias Rein of Erfurt, Germany.