Monthly Letter from the Rector
Dear Friends in Christ,
I’ve recently taken up tweeting, but the truth is I’m not good at doing it regularly enough to gain lots of followers – I think I have about 100, whereas Russell Brand, for instance, has over 2 million. I did though send out a tweet on 26th January from York Minster. Penny and I had just witnessed Bishop Libby’s consecration – we were captured on TV in the news bulletin too – and I tweeted “now everyone will want what Stockport has” with a picture of the Church’s first female Bishop. Of course, there were some who needed to register their disapproval, but overwhelmingly there was a call for more women bishops.
This month the 4th female bishop – The Revd Sarah Elisabeth (yes, with an ‘s’) Mullally, who is currently a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral – will be consecrated into her new role as Bishop of Crediton (in the Diocese of Exeter) alongside the Ven Rachel Treweek, the future Bishop of Gloucester. Both women have had interesting careers before they were ordained, and bring a huge breadth of experience to their new roles: Bishop Sarah worked in the NHS before her ordination in 2001 and was made Dame Commander of the British Empire for her contribution to nursing and midwifery.
As many of you will know, we were fortunate to welcome Bishop Libby to St Elisabeth’s on 7th June, and to discover what a gentle, impressive, lovely person she is. She presided, of course, at the Civic Service of Blessing for Mayor Andy Verdeille. What a marvellous morning it was – the sun shone, the church was packed, the West Doors were open, the music was wonderful, the sermon thought-provoking, and dozens of people commented on what a warm and friendly congregation St Elisabeth’s folk were. Official photographs were taken, of course, and if you would like to view them, or print any, you can find them at www.fris.co.uk using the password ‘elisabeths’.
On 21st June we unexpectedly welcomed another famous visitor to church. Her name is Kim Phúc, she is Vietnamese, now living in Canada. When she was 9 years old, Kim was possibly the most famous person in the world. She and her brothers had been the victims of a horrendous napalm bomb, dropped on her village 23km outside Saigon; the bomb burned the skin off 75% of her body, and as she ran naked, crying, her arms burning and outstretched, along the road, she was photographed by Nick Ut. That arresting image is the second most often viewed photograph of all time – you might be able to recall it, if not you can find it online very easily. Kim has spent years of her life in and out of hospitals, and today is a UNESCO Ambassador for Peace.
In her early adult life Kim became a Christian – she told me how God saved her – and she now spends her life travelling, talking and praying for world peace, and supporting children who are victims of war through The KIM Foundation Nick Ut continues to document her life. It was a humbling and unexpected privilege to have them both at St Elisabeth’s to share in our worship, and such a shame we could not have heard more from this remarkable woman of peace.
Instead, perhaps we can keep all these women in our prayers, as they work for the common good under the media spotlight. And let us keep one another in our prayers too, as each of us tries to live our lives in response to the love of God which is poured out on us.
God bless you all,
Images: Jerry Clifford ©