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Part of the Presidential address to Synod - 18 March 2017
Posted by Bishop Peter Burrows on 18th March 2017

As we are all now aware, following a period of prayer and reflection
Bishop Philip decided last week that, for the sake of God’s mission in the Diocese,
he should withdraw from the appointment as the next Bishop of Sheffield.

In the life of the diocese the past few weeks have been difficult and painful.  
The appointment of Bishop Philip raised questions and concerns in the minds of
many, both within the Diocese and the wider Church of England.  
Others welcomed the announcement.

Both those concerned about the appointment, and those fully supportive of it,
women and men and across traditions, have experienced a sincere and
deep sense of personal pain and hurt which we have tried to respond to
through the listening exercises.  Alongside this there has been a corporate
sense of pain across the whole diocese as we have struggled to hold things
together in a spirit of unity, mutual respect and flourishing built on confident
relationships, dialogue and a focus on God’s mission.  What is clear is that there
was more than one narrative being expressed and it is important that in
relationship with God and each other we find a way of continuing to graciously
listen, love, and in a spirit of unity within our diversity, ask for healing,
reconciliation and a way forward.

Much of the hurt and pain caused has been through the use of social and other
media outlets.  Perhaps that was inevitable, but it has meant that as a diocese
we have lived out our deeply held disagreements and concerns, which it is right
to express, in the full glare of the media which has raised the temperature and
tensions. A number of the latter emails and letters I received have been concerned
about this most public airing of our differences. Eventually, of course, the media
will lose interest in us, but we as a diocese must find a way of continuing in dialogue
with each other.

There is clearly much to reflect on and there will, as I said in my statement last week,
be time to consider what lessons there are to be learned over the coming weeks and
months.  The national church will also need to continue to reflect and pray about the
issues this has raised.

I would however like to take this opportunity of thanking all those who wrote to
me or had individual conversations expressing their personal support for me in this
most complex of times and as we seek God’s wisdom.  Your kindness and generosity
to me has been greatly appreciated.  As I have said before it is my intention to
support everyone as best as I am able, as we make this journey with God and in
relationship with each other.