Bishop GrahamThe Bishop of Dudley, Graham Usher, left the diocese at the weekend to become the Bishop of Norwich. Two celebrations were held in Worcester and Dudley to reflect the role Bishop Graham has played throughout the whole diocese, with hundreds attending saying goodbye in the Cathedral and at the Black Country Living Museum.

Rachel receiving scarfThere was a special Evensong in Worcester Cathedral on Saturday evening, at the end of which Bishop John took back the Bishop of Dudley’s crozier which was placed on the altar ready for the next bishop. Bishop Graham and his wife Rachel were presented with a painting of the Malvern hills, in case they forget what hills look like in Norwich (!) and a scarf made from Beckford silk to protect against the East wind.

Bishop Graham preachingIn Worcester, Bishop Graham preached on the wisdom he has gained from driving the M6 between the bishop’s house in Cradley and Worcester city and quoting the poet R.S. Thomas, talked about collecting “the pollen of wisdom and having the time to work it into honey”. He said: “I am hugely grateful to all of you, for how you have shaped me as a bishop. I came with much to learn. I leave with much to learn about the next step in this bizarre journey that God is calling me on as I seek, simply, to seek out the pollen of wisdom, ‘looking to Jesus’ in all that I do and am.”

Bishop Graham addressing the crowdThe celebration continued on Sunday afternoon with an open air service of praise, prayer and thanksgiving held in a ‘big top’ at the Black Country living museum. Colleagues and friends from throughout the Diocese gathered for the final goodbye and to pray for Bishop Graham and his wife Rachel. The service was led by Bishop John with worship provided by the musicians based at Top Church in Dudley.

Anna Walsh from CHADDBishop Graham preached on the parable of the good Samaritan, which had been read by Anna Walsh, Chief Executive Officer of the charity CHADD (Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District) of which the Bishop of Dudley is Chair. As well as listing the top ten things he will miss about Dudley, Bishop Graham asked the question of who is our neighbour? He said:

“Our neighbours are anyone in need of us. Our neighbours are every person made in the beautiful image of God. Our neighbours are those we have a tendency to label as the other. Our neighbours are those who inconvenience us and those it would, frankly, make life a lot easier simply to ignore. Our neighbours are even those we think are different from us. [That’s why] our churches mustn’t be clubs for the privileged few, they must be places that create space to foster being a good neighbour. They must never be places that put up walls, but always places that build bridges into communities.”

Bishop Graham waves goodbye“We’re not to pull a fizzog or have a cob on. Don’t be a half-soaked bab or begin blarting. No more clarting about saying you’ll get on with it sometime. Loving God means getting out there, sharing our faith, and serving our neighbours – both their needs and through creating spaces where good conversations can happen. And until we meet again, it’s just, ta-ra a bit.”

Rachel & Bishop GrahamAt the end of the service, Bishop Graham and Rachel were presented with a number of items to ensure they were fully prepared for life in Norwich, including a Delia Smith cookbook and the Norwich City mascot as well as mementos from Dudley, including a Black Country flag on a coaster, a piece of Stourbridge glass and a ‘Dudley bug’. Afterwards, all those present joined together to enjoy a curry kindly prepared by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

Muslim community and other guests

ENDS

The Diocese of Worcester is one of 42 dioceses in the Church of England. It covers an area of 671 square miles and includes parishes in the County of Worcestershire, the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, and a few parishes in northern Gloucestershire, south east Wolverhampton and Sandwell.

From: Sam Setchell, Press Officer for the Diocese of Worcester and the Bishop of Worcester.

Tel: 01905 20537 Mobile: 07852 302516
Email: ssetchell@cofe-worcester.org.uk