Hundreds thank the Bishop of Carlisle at his Farewell Service
More than 500 people attended Carlisle Cathedral at the weekend to say ‘thank you’ to the Bishop of Carlisle at his Farewell Service.
The Rt Rev James Newcome is set to retire at the end of August after 21 years’ ministry in Cumbria and he and his wife, Alison, will move to Oxfordshire to be closer to family.
On Sunday afternoon, the congregation heard Bishop James preach on the encouragement he has both offered and experienced during more than two decades leading mission in the county.
Drawing on readings from 2 Chronicles and 1 Thessalonians and alluding to the four central themes of the county’s ecumenical God for All vision and strategy – Follow Daily, Speak Boldly, Care Deeply and Tread Gently - Bishop James said: “In the New Testament encouragement is always an expression of love. It’s one of the foundations of the church’s life along with compassion and participation in the work of the Holy Spirit.
“Encouragement is a prophetic aspect of our mission as Christians. Mutual encouragement is fundamental to the development of community and the growth of the church.
“I’ve been encouraged under the ‘Follow Daily’ heading by such faithful perseverance by so many individuals and congregations often against the odds. I’ve been encouraged by the Network Youth Church and all our engagement with schools and the university.
“I’ve been amazingly encouraged by our wonderful ecumenical county and ecumenical colleagues and to a sacrificial commitment to stewardship.
“Under ‘Speak Boldly’ I’ve been encouraged by the hundreds, thousands perhaps, of confirmation candidates, many of them brought to faith by the witness of their friends; by a steady stream of candidates for ordained Reader and lay ministry, all ready to put their head above the parapet and by reaching deeper and the 150 fresh expressions and the development of pioneer ministry.
“And then ‘Care Deeply’ which for me is the foundation of all of this; innumerable little acts of kindness and support and friendship that I’ve witnessed and that I’ve been on the receiving end of. The developing ministry of parish nurses and Anna chaplains and Linking Lives, particularly in tackling the scourge of loneliness here in Cumbria.
“The involvement of so many churches with Foodbanks and warm spaces and green health projects as well as our respite days for NHS workers at Rydal Hall. And the response by our churches to crises: foot and mouth, the various floods, the shootings on the west coast and most recently the Covid pandemic.
“And then ‘Treading Gently’. I’ve been encouraged by our hydro schemes and our registration as an Eco Diocese, by the eco awards run by A Rocha and by the commitment throughout the county to the carbon neutral agenda, not least in our churches, vicarages, and schools.”
The Choral Evensong included anthems sung by the Cathedral Choir with the congregation also led by a worship band, prior to a time of thanksgiving for the ministry of Bishop James and Alison.
Among those dignitaries attending the service were the county’s new Lord-Lieutenant Alexander Scott and his wife, Samantha, who is the current High Sheriff as well as the Mayor of Carlisle Cllr Abdul Harid.
As part of the thanksgiving, the county’s former Lord Lieutenant, Clare Hensman, paid tribute to Bishop James and Alison, stating: “James and Alison are some of the kindest people; thinking the best of others. You have always been so welcoming and hospitable, and we will miss that infectious laugh of James’s. We wish you a very happy retirement.”
The wife of the Bishop of Penrith, Emma Saner-Haigh, also paid particular tribute to the work of Alison Newcome in support of clergy spouses.
She said: “You, Alison, have been the example of sacrificial, committed service, knowing the value of the common thread linking clergy spouses. You’ve adapted to spreading events across the diocese, having increasing numbers of working spouses and to the Covid lockdown. On behalf of all clergy spouses of Carlisle Diocese – past and present – many, many warm and grateful thank yous.”
Bishop James and Alison first came to the county in 2002, following his appointment as the Suffragan Bishop of Penrith. Seven years later he was appointed the Diocesan bishop, leading work with other denominations to create England’s first ecumenical county in 2011. He provided pastoral support for communities affected by devastating floods in 2005, 2009 and 2015, the west Cumbrian shootings and most recently the Covid pandemic.
Bishop James has also held a number of national roles for the Church. For 10 years he has been the Church of England’s ‘lead bishop’ on health and social care in the House of Lords and in 2014 he was appointed Clerk of the Closet to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, a role which has seen him head up the Ecclesiastical Household.
The Farewell Service was livestreamed and can be viewed on the Diocese of Carlisle’s Facebook pages.
Notes for editors
Please note that all photographs are to be attributed to Diocese of Carlisle/Jenny Woolgar Photography
For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Head of Communications, on 07469 153658 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.