On Thursday 27th May, 10 Downing Street announced that the Venerable Julie Conalty, Archdeacon of Tonbridge, was appointed the next Bishop of Birkenhead and the Reverend Canon Sam Corley, Rector of Leeds Minster, was appointed the next Bishop of Stockport. The following morning at 9am, they were accompanied by the Right Reverend Mark Tanner, Bishop of Chester, Ian Bishop, Archdeacon of Macclesfield and others, to our own St Bart's, described as a 'Thriving Rural Church'. Here they met with Rev. Anne, John Headon and David Barrett, churchwardens and members of the congregation involved in Messy Church, Cafe Church, the Service of the Word and the highly successful Plant Sale.
After an introduction from John on how the church had gone from closure to the present day, renovating and remodelling the building and providing new and different services, there were questions about how people had been encouraged to attend the services. There was broad recognition of the enthusiasm and community spirit alive in the church and village and the welcome all had received here. There were questions on how we had raised the £500,000 spent in the last 20 years, how we had changed perception that the church used old fashioned language and was only for a select group of people. Rachael Lewis told the group how she had come to attend Messy Church with her children and now helped lead the group, confident to do so with the help and support of other parents. Liz Davies said how welcome she had felt attending Cafe Church and how the sense of community and support effected her.
Over coffee and biscuits, the psalter of Bishops, (the name for such a group), mixed with the members of the congregation, asking them more questions and commenting on how inspired they all were. Jim, Head of Communications, further interviewed John and David on film. He asked in detail about the fund raising ideas we used and about how this had then moved on to promote the work of God in the community. The group moved on to their next visit to a nearby farm, thanking everyone for their contributions and Bishop Mark asked that he be invited back to experience a service at St Bart's for himself.
Thank you to all those who turned up today at such short notice and to the whole village community, who have supported the church in so many ways over the last 20 years, ensuring it's continued presence at the centre of the village.