JR – a Centre of Excellence
Much has been said and written in well-deserved praise of the late Bishop John Richards.
One particular bon mot of his will go down in posterity – his insistence that every parish should become a Centre of Excellence.
It only struck me as I attended his Requiem Mass in Holy Nativity Knowle that the phrase "becoming a centre of excellence" applied aptly to Bishop John himself.
Over the past ten years we witnessed the transformation of his ministry from the uncertainty which surrounds any unprecedented venture (like the Flying Bishops) into a Centre of Excellence, focused on a man who died as he had lived – "preaching not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake", as St Paul wrote of himself and his colleagues to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4:5).
The Bishop John Richards Appeal
Cost of Conscience has decided, with the PEVs, to set up the Bishop John Richards Memorial Appeal.
The Appeal will run for five years, to make modest grants and loans to parishes with a view to promoting their excellence in some respect. Initially these will be in the range of £50 to £200..
An example of such a grant might be the following:
A parish holds a monthly "Sunday Half Hour" hymn-service in a residential home for the severely mentally and physically disabled.
The project is well supported by members of the parish who turn up to lead both the singing and the worship but it suffers from the lack of an accompanist.
The gift of a CD-player and a set of disks No organist? No problem! which contain the accompaniment of some two hundred well-known hymns has dramatically transformed its quality. For less than £80 something of excellence has resulted.
The Fund might consider paying for speakers' expenses at a local teaching event; helping provide security equipment to enable a church to remain open on weekdays; or subsidising sending people to Pro-Life events and conferences – in particular the Rally in Trafalgar Square, London on Sunday 4th July 2004 organised by Celebration of Life.
Such we believe would have been enterprises which Bishop John himself would approve and support.
Once the Trustees have been appointed (early in the New Year) the Appeal will be launched and an announcement will appear in New Directions.
The Trustees will decide whether an application is appropriate, and, if so, how much should be given or lent.
Grants for church furnishings will lie outside the scope of the Fund. Not because they are unworthy objects in themselves but partly because other funds give generously towards such items, but chiefly because we believe that anything associated with Bishop John's name should have a certain dynamism about it – a more dynamic person than he would be hard to imagine.
Unless experience suggests to the contrary, the Fund will be wound up at the end of five years (31st December 2008) and any remaining assets disbursed at the Trustees' discretion to outstanding applicants.
So please consider encouraging those who have benefited from the excellence of Bishop John Richards' ministry to make a regular donation, however small, to the Fund; and let his name be associated with the promotion of some excellence in your parish by applying for a grant to make that possible.
Francis Gardom is the Hon. Secretary of Cost of Conscience
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