To all the people of God in the Diocese of London
19th July 2016
It has been a privilege and a delight to serve in the Diocese of London as priest and bishop for well over thirty years. I have seen confidence return and church life revive. The recently circulated progress report on Capital Vision 2020 is an eloquent testimony to a renewed confidence in the gospel, more strenuous compassion and more extensive service of our neighbours in the most diverse city on earth, together with burgeoning creativity. At the same time the annual accounts reveal that we have ended the financial year in balance for the tenth year in succession.
No bishop could wish for more inspiring partners in the gospel, both among the clergy and laity of the Diocese. Regular visits to St Mellitus College are also a huge encouragement. There are more than 200 talented candidates for the priesthood training in the London centre of the college, with flourishing work on Merseyside and other places in England and even overseas. Work begins on a hub in Kuala Lumpur this September.
It has been a blessing to serve with a diocesan team of bishops, archdeacons and those who work at Causton Street, whose gifts are so diverse but who are united in their zeal for generous orthodoxy.
For my part, I have tried to follow the example of St Augustine who said, “For you I am a bishop but with you I am a Christian”, and in this spirit I hope you will forgive my many shortcomings in office.
After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement. It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.
Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.
I have received so many signs in prayer and in the life of the Diocese that my period as Bishop of London is drawing to a close. I have every confidence in the Diocesan Team, and in the leadership of our Archbishop in the challenge of renewing and reforming the Church as a servant of reconciliation in these turbulent times.
I look forward to continuing to serve in other roles but it is right that someone who began as a primary school ink monitor should give way to a new Bishop of London more at home in the digital world, and with sufficient time to be able to play a constructive part in the Lambeth Conference planned for 2020.
The important things, however, do not change and I shall be praying for you as you seek to navigate into God’s future under new leadership.
In the meantime I continue to give
thanks for our partnership in the gospel.
The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA