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After keeping it quiet for so long it’s difficult to say anything – I still feel as if I’m breaking some sort of confidence, even when a press release has announced my appointment. I’ve spent a lot of the last few months trying not to think too much about what lay ahead; it was difficult enough to keep on with normal life as it was. Living two different futures, one of which you have to talk about, and publicly plan for, even though you know it isn’t going to happen, is a very uncomfortable experience. The real future sometimes seemed like a strange fantasy; until this week the only piece of paper I had with my name and ‘Bishop of Croydon’ on it was my CRB disclosure.

The moment Bishop Christopher rang to tell me I was the chosen candidate for Croydon ranks with those very few other memorable times which change your life, which open the door to something new, exciting, and of course scary. I remember getting the news that I had been recommended for ordination training – ringing home from Slough railway station, as it happens. I remember making my marriage vows, and addressing my first words to my newborn daughter. That phone call was another of those moments: everything’s different from here.

Mostly, I’m glad to say – and I hope the people of the Croydon Area will be glad to hear – it’s given me a great sense of joy and anticipation. I’ve done a fair bit of trawling the web, but however wonderful the virtual world might be it can’t beat real life. When I finally get to start work, sometime in May, I know there’ll be plenty to do and a huge amount to learn. I can’t wait.

But in the meantime, it’s only six weeks until I say goodbye to Stoke Newington. After coming up nine years in the parish, and six years before just round the corner in Highbury, it’ll be a real wrench. This has been such a good place to live, and a great community to serve. But there’ll be time for farewells later …

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about living and working in Stoke Newington has been the diversity of the community – different ethnic groups, social classes, religious traditions. Although I’ll miss where I am now, I’m really glad to be coming to an Area which is just as diverse, encompassing everything from inner urban areas to the Surrey countryside via Croydon Town Centre and the surrounding suburbs. It’s that diversity which I see as one of the greatest strengths of the Church, reflecting the richness of God’s love for all people.

I’m also looking forward to working with churches, chaplaincies and communities of faith which reflect the diversity of God’s grace – churches large and small, evangelical, catholic and firmly middle of the road. I’ve always been struck by the many different ways there are to live out the good news – expressing faith, bearing hope and embodying love, as Bishop Christopher expressed it in his Call to Mission. I will do all I can to serve and lead in the Croydon Area so that in our diversity we enjoy our unity in Christ.

It’s used too much, but it felt inescapably appropriate: ‘For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.’ (Dag Hammarskjold)

21 thoughts on “Croydon

  1. Greetings from Churches Together in South London on your appointment as Bishop of Croydon. We include all the main Christian traditions and a growing number of independent black majority churches in the London Boroughs south of the river with the aim of `making connections for Christ’s sake’. We have been glad to support new ecumenical developments in Croydon over the last couple of years and I know that the Croydon Churches Forum is looking forward to welcoming you. The Churches Together in South London Chair, Bishop Paul Hendircks of the Catholic Archdiocese, and its Vice-chair, Bishop Donnett Thomas of the True Redemption Apostolic Network, join me in giving you a warm welcome and assuring you of our active and praryerful support in your new post. God bless

  2. We are looking forward to you joining us in Croydon. It is a vibrant area and there are many churches and clergy working hard for the kingdom of God. You will be very welcome to visit us here in Old Coulsdon.

  3. It will be good to have a continuation of “blogging bishops of Croydon”. Welcome to our Diocese, and may you have a fruitful ministry here.

  4. Thank you, Jonathan, for everything you have brought to us here at St.Mary’s over the last 9 years and hope that your gifts may be transferred smoothly over to and among the people of Croydon…which is now at the end of the Overground line, so not far enough away to stop us visiting! Mark

  5. Congratulations

    The long period of waiting is nearly over, and we look forward to the future with you.

    You will find Croydon a great and diverse place, and, you can still walk to work!

  6. Hi Fr Jonathan

    Our heartiest congratulations on your appointment as Suffragen See ( I had to look that church jargon up!) for Croydon! Absolutely fantastic promotion for you, yet unexpected perhaps (?) as I remember you marathon-ringing St Marys’ bells at your inauguration ceremony in Stokey in the hope of still being there when you were 70!

    So, lucky for Croydon, and sad for Stokey. However, do let us know when your last Sunday service at St Marys will be: it would be great if Alice and I + Tom (5) and Jim (3) could get there for it.

    Best wishes from Hertford,
    Ian & Alice Maggs

  7. Jonathan,

    Many congratulations. I did a little jig when I saw the announcement this morning. It’s about time! I am absolutely thrilled. You must make sure you put on here when your last service in Stokey is, as i’ll make an effort to come down. My prayers are with you, Alison, the kids and St Mary’s as well.

  8. Congratulations to you and to Croydon – and our prayers for all of you. Croydon, Southwark, and the CofE are all blessed in thoughtful caring priests (and now soon bishops) like you.

  9. Congratulations, Jonathan. I’m not at all surprised, but I am glad to hear that the Church has seen what those who have known you have recognised for a long time. I hope Croydon will be full of blessings.

  10. Congratulations on your appointment, which will be announced to every household in our parish, through our Newsletter and website, very soon! We look forward to a visit from you to our parish of St Swithun in Purley.

    Tomorrow evening at our parish Communications meeting we shall be deliberating on whether to blog or not to blog – yours has inspired us to take the plunge!

  11. You said that after keeping it quiet for so long – Are you actually asked to keep it quiet for a number of months?

    1. There’s not a set length of time, it’s all the stages it has to go through: the diocesan bishop seeks the approval of the archbishop, then the CRB has to be done, then it goes to the PM and finally to HM the Queen. Only after all that can you announce the news.

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