The Bishops of The Church of England in Lancashire have praised the recent ‘Moving Mountains’ Northern Bishops’ Mission event in Carlisle Diocese (which covers the whole of Cumbria).
Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn and Rt Rev. Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley were in the Diocese for four days, alongside fellow Bishops from across the north of England.
Launched in 2015 by the Archbishop of York, the first Northern Bishops’ Mission was in Sheffield Diocese, followed by this Diocese in 2016 and then Durham Diocese in 2017.
This year’s Mission was the first time it has taken place with ecumenical partners, as part of Carlisle Diocese’s ‘God With Us’ initiative.
The four-day mission event began with a commissioning service at Penrith Auction Mart, where around 400 people gathered.
Then, as part of the ecumenical mission, 33 teams led by church leaders from the Methodist Church, the Church of England, Salvation Army and United Reformed Church, fanned out across Cumbria.
As well as the Bishops’ teams, a team of 16 men from St Stephen’s Church in Preston, also took part, working alongside the retired Bishop of Bolton, Rt Rev. Chris Edmondson and the Methodist District Chair for the Isle of Man, Rev. Richard Hall.
And Rev. Brian McConkey from Ribchester, Mitton and Hurst Green parishes, also took a team to Kendal Deanery.
Each Bishop was also assigned to a local ‘Deanery area’ with Bishop Julian being based in Brampton Deanery, near the city of Carlisle, with his wife Heather.
Bishop Julian spoke at venues as diverse as a school assembly and a Carlisle Golf Club breakfast event. He also attended a quiz evening and a sixth form ‘Grill a Bishop’ gathering amongst many others.
Meanwhile Heather attended several events including a Pie, Pea and Cumbrian Poetry Evening and a charity Quilting exhibition at St Martin's, Brampton. The link with Moving Mountains for the Quilting Exhibition was that, as quilts are created from 'bits and pieces' to make a work of art, so God creates a masterpiece as he joins many different people together in His church throughout the world.
In fact, every single event which took place during Moving Mountains had a mission focus and aimed to impart the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Reflecting today on his time in Cumbria for Moving Mountains Bishop Julian said: “Moving Mountains was excellent. Any initiative that encourages local church communities to think outwards is a good thing.
“We were seeking to remind people of the relevance of the person of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers in their lives today and I saw the confidence of local Christians being boosted; they have an important message to share.”
Meanwhile Bishop Philip and his team were based in Barrow Deanery. He said: “We received a warm welcome from the people of Barrow and we were involved in a huge range of events. It was a delight to offer support and encouragement to the hard-working local churches who arranged many of the gatherings I attended. It really was grassroots mission work.
“There was also a chance to engage with some civic and business leaders at an event in the town hall, as well as an evening with Warren Furman (Ace from Gladiators) during which I quizzed him in front of an audience about how he became a Christian.
Bishop Philip added: “Across the four days we had significant conversations in Barrow about what it means to follow Jesus and I am delighted the Archbishop has continued to lead this initiative, which is now a regular fixture in the northern church calendar.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, added: “This mission has been fantabulous. It has been really encouraging with lots of opportunities and many people making a response to God.”
And finally, Rev. Dave Hanson from Preston St Stephen’s Church, also spoke about the work of the 16 men from his church who were based in Inglewood.
He said: “We did everything from washing up to shifting chairs; providing music to sharing our faith stories; picking up litter to leading a games evening and even helped at a children’s praise party.
“Champing (church camping) in St Mary’s Church was a new experience for us - but the Cumbrian hospitality was amazing! The local Vicar also commented how having us there enabled them to extend the number of events that they were able to put on.”