Bishop prepares to retire

BISHOP John Perry has spoken of the Church of England's need to embrace change as he retires as head of the second largest diocese in the country.The Diocese of Chelmsford covers the entire county of Essex and five east London boroughs with a population of more than 2.

BISHOP John Perry has spoken of the Church of England's need to embrace change as he retires as head of the second largest diocese in the country.

The Diocese of Chelmsford covers the entire county of Essex and five east London boroughs with a population of more than 2.6million people, 609 churches, 427 stipendiary clergy, 97 non-stipendiary clergy – led by the Rt Rev Perry with the support of area bishops.

The Rt Rev Perry has also spoken out about the importance of challenging the "cult of consumerism'' and secularism and the importance of justice and caring.

The 67-year-old said: "One of the things I have been concerned about is that the Church is open to change. The Church of the future must be ready to look at new ways, as well as having continuity with the past.


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"I see a lot of growth through small groupings, people meeting for prayer. We need to honeycomb our communities, with prayer groups, caring groups, practical supportive groups

"There needs to be a coherence, a holding together, but I always wanted to affirm the importance of the local.''

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He added that in the diocese "we want to see more justice, more caring, a more self forgetful society today to counter secularism and the cult of consumerism.

"We need to challenge that, it is very much on the march and erodes and absorbs and takes our eye off those things which are enduring and make for the best in society.''

The Bishop stressed the importance of clergy and lay people working together and other Christian denominations, arguing that what unites Anglicans and Catholics is far greater than what divides them.

The Bishop was awarded an honorary doctorate by Anglia Polytechnic University during 2001, jointly with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood Thomas McMahon, recognising their ecumenical commitment.

The Rt Rev Perry has been Bishop of Chelmsford for seven years, moving to the role from his previous position as Bishop of Southampton where he was serving the Church there for seven years as well.

Among his many duties the Bishop has served as a member of the House of Lords, on the Church's General Synod, chaired the working group which produces the report "A Time to Heal'' focussing on the Church's healing ministry and chaired the Ecumenical Church Leaders' Group for Essex and east London.

He was ordained in 1959 serving in the centre of Woking, was first vicar of St Andrew's in Chorleywood where he was also rural dean of Rickmansworth.

The Rt Rev Perry and his wife Gay, 63, have five married children, many grandchildren, and now hope to spend more time with the family and pursue other interests, as well as becoming involved in Church life when they retire to Dorset.

The bishop celebrates his last Sunday in the diocese this weekend with a special service at Chelmsford Cathedral from 6pm, followed by a reception.

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