Andreas Whittam Smith is best known as the man who started the Independent newspaper. Equally significantly, as First Estates Commissioner, he has effectively ‘run’ the Church Commissioners for quite a few years – and done so brilliantly. He’s stepping down soon and late last year he addressed the House of Bishops. I was struck by what he said – that he feels more hopeful about the Church of England now than he has done for a long time.

That’s quite something coming from a seasoned old hack like Andreas and I found it very encouraging. Why did he feel so hopeful? He felt the Church is at long last waking up to the fact that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option and, more than that, is taking bold and innovative steps to reform and renew.

The scale of the challenge is enormous: The proportion of people in our country who have much understanding of the Christian faith, let alone practise it, is declining fast. What is needed is nothing less than the re-evangelisation of England. That’s not an invitation to despair though, but a challenge to which, in the power of the living God, we can rise.

One exciting development in our diocese is the Calling Young Disciples project. Ruth Walker, its director, has already begun her ministry here and three Mission Enablers have already been appointed and will be taking up their posts soon. I hope and pray that their ministry will bear much fruit – not just to reverse the ‘institutional decline’ of the Church but bring people to a vibrant faith in the living God revealed in Jesus.

The renewal of the Church is not just up to them though; responsibility for it lies with us all. Please pray that we may all, as Kingdom People, fulfil our vocation to witness effectively to God’s great love for everyone in Christ. May He make us instruments of his love, his compassion, his justice and His freedom.

+John