Bishop Nick spent an evening this week at Ripon Cathedral explaining the thinking behind the diocese’s strap line - Loving Living Learning.
Introducing the event, Dean John Dobson said that the creation of the Diocese of Leeds had been an enormously complex task, but Bishop Nick’s inspirational leadership, vision and energy had been crucial in bringing it to this point, three years on.
Bishop Nick began by saying that he is, in fact, suspicious of vision statements: “There’s a danger that you think that once the words are formulated, the work is done.
“But creating a diocese from scratch provided an opportunity to think again about our core vocation. I suggested it was this: ‘to be a vibrant diocese equipping confident clergy to enable confident Christians to live and tell the good news of Jesus Christ’.
“Nothing new or zappy there - it’s always been the Church’s core vocation - but the design company who have worked with us on our visual identity said that, while it was fine for those inside the Church, it didn’t mean much to those beyond it. And they were right - we need to be able to articulate our faith in the public square not just on our own territory.
“So we came up with ‘Loving Living Learning’. It’s a shorthand expression of our values and a prism through which we can look at everything we do – at the micro and macro level. A lens through which we can keep things simple, clear and visible.
"So what might those three words mean?
Jesus always kept things simple, and he said that the primary command for God’s people is to “Love the Lord your God with all heart and mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself.”
This relates to not only to worship but also to the ethical injunction to reflect the nature of the God we worship in the way we order our lives and our society. So if we ask how do I love my neighbour, creation and my community, that will have implications for the environment, social ethics, political order etc.
Our faith is incarnational – that is, God took on humanity - which means we’re committed to the world as it is, focussed on our common humanity, getting stuck in and not exempting ourselves from all that the world can throw at us. We can do that because we trust in a God who brings resurrection out of death - but who doesn’t deny the pain. (Christian discipleship is not an insurance policy against trouble).
Because we often don’t get it right, we need a confident humility that allows us to keep looking at ourselves and to keep learning. A church that knows its mortality and its fragility is more likely to be open to people who discover theirs.
So these three words offer a way of keeping us focused on what really matters – keeping things as simple as we can in order not to get bogged down in a million distractions.
The authenticity of our worship can be assessed by the priorities we set, and whether in all that we do we are loving, living and learning."