A message to the Diocese from Bishop Sarah
Some of you will this morning have seen the sad news from +Adrian that he is standing down as Bishop of Stepney, due to ongoing ill health.
I realise this will come as a great shock to many, given the commitment and drive with which +Adrian carries out his duties. However, behind the scenes, +Adrian has struggled for some time to manage frequent debilitating migraine attacks and, while he has tried various forms of treatment, there is one option he has not yet explored: complete rest. We speak about taking seriously the wellbeing of ordained ministers and, whilst I will miss working with Bishop Adrian in the future, I fully support his decision to put his health first.
On the day I was announced as the 133rd Bishop of London last December, although the press conference was planned at St Paul’s, I also wanted to go out and see the life and breadth of the Diocese. The original suggestion of visiting a parish or church project in each area didn’t last long, when it became apparent I’d then spend most of my announcement day on the Tube, and certainly not make Evensong at the Cathedral, as I’d hoped.
So, it was +Adrian who kindly offered to take me on a tour of the Stepney Area that winter’s day, guiding us up to a food bank at St John’s Hoxton, to meet the staff and students of the Urswick School in Hackney, and then Tower Hamlets faith leaders at St John on Bethnal Green, before making the Central Line back to St Paul’s. I greatly valued his company and his wisdom as he gave me a partial snapshot of this wonderfully vibrant, diverse Diocese.
Becoming Bishop of Stepney was of course +Adrian’s return to London, having served his curacy at St Mark’s, Forest Gate, in the Diocese of Chelmsford. His experience of urban ministry – not just here but also in Sheffield and Birmingham – has been at the forefront of his work, as he has campaigned for social justice, so often providing a voice for the marginalised in the East End and beyond. When terror struck London – not for the first or last time in 2017 – it was +Adrian who took his place alongside our political and faith leaders at Finsbury Park Mosque, addressing the crowd at the vigil afterwards with the cry, “an attack on one faith is an attack on us all”.
+Adrian will be withdrawing from public duties in October, and I have asked Bishop Pete to become the acting Bishop of Stepney until we make a new appointment. I am sure you will join with me in thanking Bishop Adrian and praying for him, and for Gill and his family, as he makes this life-change.