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An open letter to the Bishop of London on his retirement

As thousands turn out for the Bishop of London's farewell service at St Paul's Cathedral tonight, Cris and Beki Rogers pay tribute to Rt Rev Richard Chartres

In our Christian walk we all have people who encourage and lead us to follow Jesus more and to go deeper in our relationship with him through their lives and actions.

For us, Bishop Richard Chartres the present Bishop of London is one of those people. In a few hours we will be heading out to the farewell celebration for his long and blessed ministry as he retires.

He became the Bishop of London in 1995 and has overseen much change within the city and church in that time. As this moment comes to say goodbye we wanted to write to the Bishop thanking him personally for his ministry and the profound impact he has had on us:

Dear Bishop Richard,

Beki and I wish to write with thanks and gratitude for all your care and ministry within the London Diocese. Your leadership has had a major impact upon us knowing that we had someone willing to invest into younger clergy. I remember being invited to lunch as a very new curate. We were about to be ordained at St Paul’s and you had invited us over to your home for lunch before the service. Your words were encouraging and exciting as you shared the vision you had for London. Your spirit to honour and engage with new clergy was such a blessing as we nervously started out this calling to priesthood.

Later we approached you about leading a church plant into East London. All Hallows' Bow had been struggling for some time and we approached you for permission to try to get something new going within it. We nervously met with you thinking that it was a really long shot. Within a few moments you opened the diary and asked when we wanted to start.

You have proven to be radical in thinking and willing to try things knowing that they may fail. As someone with little track record your support has been invaluable. All through the process of discernment and then arriving in East London we knew that you had our backs and you wanted to give us the best opportunity and environment to see All Hallows' Bow grow. You were outspoken for us when getting us the Rectory to make as a home and community, and even sent us a small personal gift to get things moving at the church.

At our licencing you said, "The kingdom of God is the great existing reality to renew the earth. The church needs to recapture the kingdom not in metaphor or allegory but in real profound tangible reality. Dust, dirt, bricks and mortar, sweat and blood reality". This was just the challenge we needed to hear and the challenge we have chosen to live by.

Your Bishop of London’s Mission fund has been more than an encouragement. Twice we approached you for support, once to start Eden youth work in Bow and secondly to launch family work at our community centre Fern Street. Your desire for mission, seeing people hear the good news and encounter this gospel practically has been the reinforcement we have needed. Within our community the Bishop of London has become synonymous with encouragement to do mission effectively, passionately and joyfully.

In 2015 you invited us around for coffee just before Christmas to talk about multicultural mission in East London. You listened intently, encouraged us and showed real excitement for the work we were doing. That interest, support and time for a young clergy couple speaks volumes for your love of London, the partnership in the gospel and its wider areas. We have been blessed to have you as our Bishop, it’s been a blessing to know your support, interest and encouragement and such an inspiration for the future of the Diocese of London.

You have made a huge impression upon us and our ministry. We find your passion for the Gospel and the diversity of the Church in London inspiring and we love that you are walking with Jesus following him and leading others to him by example.

Thank you for faithfully following your call to lead this amazing city we call home. We pray that your retirement will be restful and life-giving but never boring or monotonous! Finally we pray that we can continue to serve God’s people in London as enthusiastically, authentically and boldly as you.

Cris and Beki Rogers lead All Hallow's Bow Church in East London

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