Eucharist for the Bishop of Horsham,
Lindsay Urwin OGS
Saturday 14th February 2009
Often Valentine’s Day is spent with a loved one
after spending large amounts of money on flowers, chocolates and cards. This
year, I spent it with a small party from St Wilfrid’s Church at the Farewell
Eucharist of the Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin, the outgoing Bishop of Horsham.
The service marked the end of Bishop Lindsay’s time as an Area Bishop in the
Diocese of Chichester. It was ironic that Valentine’s Day was picked for such an
occasion as Bishop Lindsay, in his time as Bishop has shown so much love to
those in his Episcopal area.
It was announced
on the Feast of the Assumption, 15th August 2009 that Bishop Lindsay has
accepted the invitations of the Guardians of the Shrine of Our Lady of
Walsingham to succeed Father Philip North as Administrator. The Bishop of
The Rt Rev’d Graham James
in the Diocese where Walsingham falls has also invited Bishop Lindsay to become
an Honorary Assistant Bishop too.
Over 500 people, including 6 Bishops, 3 Archdeacons, 1 Abbot and many clergy
and lay from the Horsham Episcopal area turned out for a huge celebration of
Bishop Lindsay’s time in the Diocese. It was a delight to welcome back former
clergy in the Diocese including Bishop John Ford, now at Plymouth but formally a
Canon at Chichester Diocese and one time Chaplain to Bishop Lindsay. The Rt
Rev’d Eric Kemp, the retired Bishop of Chichester who appointed Bishop Lindsay
was also in attendance.
Worship took the form of the Eucharist, but had a modern touch with music led by
The Point Church Horsham, which is a fresh expression of Church. Bishop Lindsay
presided and spoke assisted by the Rev’d Deacon Rebecca Swyer. The epistle was
read y Shirley Steers, who has served as Bishop Lindsay’s Secretary for 19
In his address, Bishop Lindsay
spoke about the need for us to be worthy of our calling. He challenged us to
think again about being those who live as society does, moving people out of the
way. The challenge of the Jesus is to walk shoulder to shoulder. This call to be
worthy is something which each of us will fail in some way but we are reminded
that God is merciful.
At the end of Eucharist, the Rt
Revd John Hind, Bishop of Chichester led tributes’ to Bishop Lindsay saying that
‘this is a bitter sweet moment’ as Lindsay is not simply a colleague but a
friend also. He paid tribute to Bishop Lindsay’s love, warmst and sense of
making Christianity relevant for our time. .Bishop Lindsay has been, locally and
nationally a leader when it comes to make fresh expressions of church. It is
that place where people can encounter God in relevant and unseen ways. There was
also a cheque, presented by Bishop John on behalf of parishes in the Diocese.
was also tributes’ from Bishop John Ford was reminded us of the Bishops humour
and devotion to the job. The Rev’d Christine Wilson also paid tribute on behalf
of the clergy of the area for all Bishop Lindsay has done to be a ‘’kool’’
Bishop. This was highlighted when she said Bishop Lindsay’s appearance on the
Ali G Show is second in the top 100 funny moments on Channel 4.
Bishop Lindsay ended our time by thanking everyone for the huge love and support
which has been shown to him during his time in the Diocese. He reminded us that
we are all welcome to visit him at Walsingham. I am sure we can be certain that
many of us will be taking him up on the offer.
And so, we bid farewell to
Bishop Lindsay thanking God for all which has been good about the Bishops time
in the Diocese. We pray now for those committed with the task of finding a
worthy successor to Bishop Lindsay.
Be assured of thoughts and prayers in this the next stage of your ministry!
God bless, Bishop Lindsay....
An earlier farewell message from the Bishop of Horsham,
The Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin OGS
37 when Bishop Eric commissioned me as bishop of Horsham
fifteen years ago. With typical wry humour he chose 1
Timothy as the epistle. The text included, ‘Do not let
anyone despise you because you are young…’ He was aware,
though perhaps not as aware as I was that my appointment
had raised ecclesiastical eyebrows and was a sign to
some that he should have retired several years before!
For a time I was referred to as the ‘boy bishop’ and not
always with affection. I know that in the highest
offices in Church and State my appointment was regarded
as ‘risky’ which in a perverse way I regarded as a
compliment and challenge.
Well all of that is
ancient history, and if in those early years I prayed to
God that he would make me look older in order to give me
a little ‘gravitas’, no such prayers are needed now. I’m
not sure about the gravitas, but these days youthfulness
is not a problem!
I will always be
grateful to Bishop Eric for taking the risk, giving me
undreamed of opportunities to serve in this diocese, and
to his successor for graciously embracing the
inheritance! I expect that my successor will be equally
grateful to Bishop John. I hope he will not waste too
much time with the question, ‘Why me?’, or be too
anxious about his own unworthiness, but trust in the
Lord’s personal love for him, to the wisdom of the call
and to God’s great faithfulness in equipping those upon
whom he places the burden of the care of the churches.
For a variety of reasons episcopal appointments bring
forth mixed reactions and rarely draw unanimous acclaim.
An early lesson from Bishop Eric was to forget about
popularity, and while always remembering that you might
be proved wrong, hold fast to what you believe to be
true. If doors close and loneliness and criticism come
as a result, accept it and get on with the next thing.
Eric was 41 years my
senior and a Doctor of Divinity. When I was appointed I
didn’t even have a degree. (I do now!) Yet, from day one
he treated me as a brother and a valued colleague, and
as if I had more wisdom and knowledge than I did, in
order I suppose to let me grow in both. Having entrusted
some of his duties to me under the area scheme, he was
patient with my early ‘change the diocese’ enthusiasms
and foolishnesses and let me get on with it. He was
generous with me and if there were times when the
evidence was ambiguous, he trusted to the choice he had
made. I suppose ministry over many years and the
historian’s mind taught him not to be too anxious over
today’s crisis or disagreement or scandal or
disappointment. This is neither irresponsible nor a
burying of the mitre in the sand. Rather it is, as he
advised me in that same commissioning sermon, to hold
fast above all to the twin doctrines of the Incarnation
and the Resurrection, and to see all people and set all
events in the light of those two most defining of events
and the person at the heart of them, Jesus. That is
where true joy and the strength to be faithful are to be
Over these fifteen
years I have received more love than I have given, been
prayed for more than I have prayed, been trusted and
forgiven more than I have deserved. God has not left me
alone in the ministry but has surrounded me with men and
women, ordained and lay, of faith and hope and love.
Though sad in the leaving, I go with a joyful heart
because I have seen God at work in Sussex. If I know
more of him now that I did all those years ago it is
because as a bishop one is allowed so close to the
action – to the loving actions of the Holy Spirit who
is, if we would allow ourselves to see, just a touch, a
prayer, an invocation away.
My successor will have
a heavy burden laid upon him, but he will be among the
most fortunate of men. Accept him. Pray for him. Love