Farewell Eucharist for the Bishop of Horsham,
Lindsay Urwin OGS

Worth Abbey
Saturday 14th February 2009

 By Adam May

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 Norwich, 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 years. 

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.

There 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....


Adam May

An earlier farewell message from the Bishop of Horsham,
The Right Reverend Lindsay Urwin OGS 

I was 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 found.

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 him.  




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