As the Rt Revd Mike Hill prepares to retire as Bishop of Bristol
on 30 September 2017, he has written a final letter to parishes in the
Diocese of Bristol.
The letter, which can be read below, sets out
his commitment to resourcing new ministers, calling for churches to pray
for, equip and release a new generation of workers into the harvest
field and specifically those to lead our churches:
harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the
harvest therefore to send out workers into the harvest field.” Luke 10:2
a convert to the Christian faith, my passion has been to see people
come to faith in Jesus Christ. In parish ministry, I sought to lead
churches where people could hear the Good News, deepen their faith and
transform their communities. I have tried to encourage our churches to
do the same in their tradition and their context.
Our society is
in desperate need of God. Like the crowds Jesus encountered, people are
“harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. As I retire, the
Church of England is rediscovering its mission to the nation. The
harvest is plentiful and we have hope for the future. But we must face our challenges if that harvest is to be reaped.
particular challenge I want to leave you with is to pray for, resource
and release a new generation of workers into the harvest field and
specifically those to lead our churches.
A growing and hopeful
Church needs ministers, lay and ordained, with a deep faith who can lead
in a changing and diverse world. It needs a wide variety of people and
gifts to lead in different ways.
But it also needs more ministers: the workers are few and are getting fewer.
a Church, we have underinvested in praying for and seeking out this new
generation. We have also underinvested in funding their training and
In this Diocese, our previous approach to Parish
Share, the way we resource ministry, intensified this. As parishes did
not receive clear and equitable direction on how much to give, many
unintentionally deprioritised their responsibility to fund ministry. The
gap between Parish Share and ministry costs widened to £1m. To redress
the balance, all parishes are now being asked to give at new levels to
provide the ministry we need, both now and into the future.
Jesus tells us to ask God to send out
workers. All vocation is the gracious call of God. We need to pray for
Him to renew all vocations among the body of Christ.Encourage others
do you see with the faith, character and gifts who God might be calling
to ministry? Encourage them to use their gifts and explore their
How are you
responding to Jesus’ call to follow Him? How are you following Jesus in
the spheres of your life, loving God and serving others? Is God calling
you to ministry?
Put simply, parishes
need more financial resources and to give more of them to Parish Share
to invest in the ministry we need – an increase of £1m between 2015 and
- Every Christian can give sacrificially to their parish.
- Clergy and church leaders can teach about generous giving as part of discipleship.
- PCCs can review their approach to stewardship using Giving for Life, adopt a programme like Giving in Grace and maximise their income through effective Gift Aid processes and joining the Parish Giving Scheme.
- Finally, PCCs can respond to their Parish Share request in the
light of the need, taking responsibility, being generous and having
The Diocese of Bristol has a hopeful future. It has
been a privilege to serve this diocese. As I work out the next chapter
of my vocation, I will be joining you in praying, encouraging others and
giving so that the plentiful harvest might be reaped.
Yours in Christ,
Rt Revd Mike Hill