The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson said a fond farewell to The Church of England in Lancashire at a special event in Blackburn. 

He was joined by his wife Heather and grandchildren at the service at Blackburn Cathedral which celebrated the work done across the county during Bishop Julian’s tenure. 

Hundreds of clergy and laity from parishes across the County converged on the Cathedral to say goodbye and thank you alongside the Bishop’s Leadership Team members past and present.

Lancashire faith and civic representatives, including the Mayor of Blackburn Cllr Suleman Khonat and bishops from neighbouring Dioceses in the North West also attended.

Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, said: “We are going through odd times in many churches in Western Europe, with many losing nerve and planning for decline, assuming the future is a smaller church.  

“I am massively grateful to Bishop Julian and to Heather, who has always supported him, because he has always defied that narrative; leading to the atmosphere of positivity that he has brought to this Diocese. 

“Every decision clearly and demonstrably springs from his faith. It’s that trust in Jesus Christ that has allowed him to take risks with strategy and appointments and is the driving force behind all that he does.

“We have got a plan for growth; we are committed to maintaining clergy numbers; committed to resourcing the local church for growth and to reaching out into the community in service and proclamation.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster added: “Thank you that God called you both to Lancashire from the deepest south. Thank you that you didn’t put up with the decline plan, but you came with hope.

“You came wanting to see people come to faith in Jesus; to take the scriptures seriously; to see the churches grow.  

“I want to say a massive thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made, the faith that you have and the love that you have showed to the people of Lancashire.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

After celebrating his final Eucharist there was a moving moment when the retiring Bishop of Blackburn lay his crozier down on the altar of the Cathedral; symbolically bringing his tenure to a close.

As the service ended Bishop Julian said: “Thanks be to God for everything we achieved over the past nine years … ‘This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.’ (Psalm 118).  
“I’m grateful for the team God has sent here to fulfil the work and I particularly want to thank Heather and my family for all their support. 

“We are now a Vision-driven Diocese and not a churchmanship-driven diocese; the different churchmanships within the diocese all now work towards supporting and enabling that Vision.”  

Speaking in a video released this week, Bishop Julian added: “My prayer has always been not for us to just to survive but for a revival of faith in our time and in our County. God’s spirit awakening spiritual life in hearts and minds all around the diocese. 

“(Meanwhile) I’ve tried to make the role of Bishop less distant; more accessible, relational and informal and with my door open to everybody. I’m just an ordinary human being who has found himself in this extraordinary role.”