Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Bishop James Bell has said he is hopeful for the future of the rural church describing many positive signs of growth and renewal. In an article written to coincide with his retirement at the end of April, the Bishop of Ripon has described many of the ‘fresh expressions’ emerging in rural North Yorkshire churches, and says he is positive about the future.
“The challenges are great, but the rural Church has a great story to tell of faithfulness and service and is already demonstrating the potential for exciting renewal and significant growth, ” says Bishop James in the comment piece, printed Tuesday May 2.
But he also says that with clergy being stretched it is important that lay people are able to exercise their own roles in the church. "One of the main roles of the clergy will be to enable the body to function by discerning and releasing the gifts that are in the people of the Church and beyond the Church, and offering supervision and support in the use of those gifts"
Bishop James has also been interviewed on camera and says that his thirteen years as a bishop have been a time of great blessing. “The last three years since the creation of the Diocese of Leeds have been an invigorating experience as I have played a part in building something big, important and new. It has been simply wonderful.”
Hundreds of friends, colleagues and parishioners from across the diocese and beyond came to the service to mark Bishop James’s retirement. Tributes were paid to Bishop James and his twenty year ministry in Ripon during the Festal Eucharist at which Bishop James preached his final sermon and presided at Holy Communion.