CAPTION: Joy2020 will see Devon's bishops at special community events over four weekends

Bishops on a mission to bring Devon joy in 2020

Posted: 18th December, 2019

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us as the church in Devon to get out and about and for people to discover the joy we have.

“Not just the joy within but the joy for communities beyond church.”

The Reverend James Grier, the Diocese of Exeter’s Mission Enabler, is heading up Joy2020  and is excited about what is being planned.

He is working alongside teams in each of Devon’s four archdeaconries (areas of the diocese) to plan four long weekends which will see Bishop Robert, Bishop Jackie and Bishop Nick out and about taking part in activities as diverse as Bish&Chips, The Big Sing at the Big Sheep, Unsung Hero dinners, beach events, sports, drama and more.

It all kicks off in Barnstaple Archdeaconry (6-8 March), before moving to Exeter (20-22 March), then Totnes ( 1-3 May) and finally Plymouth (26-28 June).

James says: “I think churches are wonderful in what we do and are hidden gems.

“But we are not necessarily as connected to our communities as we’d like to be, we get stressed about it and worried about it.

“It’s an opportunity to open doors we have longed and prayed will open”

“But when the bishops come for these long weekends in each area, each archdeaconry, it’s the chance for some catalyst work.

“Bishops bring a level of engagement where people like head teachers and business people will open doors to a bishop that they wouldn’t necessarily to a church.

“It’s an opportunity for us to open doors that we’ve longed and prayed will open and then for us as a church to go through those doors and capitalise on those opportunities.”

Bishop Robert said “The hope is that these weekends will encourage all of us to share our faith with greater confidence and enable local people to see that the church in Devon is alive and well, and that Christianity has much to offer them in today’s world.”

The Reverend Derek Arnold is on the team planning The Big Sing, a free event at the Big Sheep in Bideford, which will see 18 local community, school and church choirs performing a song each and Bishop Robert, Bishop Jackie and Bishop Nick compering.

“It’s safe to say if there weren’t bishops’ mission events I wouldn’t be here now”

“We look forward to welcoming the bishops and the people of North Devon, to what we hope will be an inspirational, joy filled afternoon of singing,” he said.

Reverend Patrick Parkes, from Newton Abbot, is living proof that bishops’ outreach events can be life-changing.

Ten years’ ago he was at a Bishops in Mission event at his local church when a letter from Bishop Michael Langrish about vocations was read out.

It prompted him for the first time to consider ordination in the Church of England. Less than two years’ later he was a curate leading a communion service in Exeter Cathedral.

“It’s safe to say if there wasn’t Bishops in Mission I wouldn’t be here now,” he said.

“It was completely surprising and unexpected. I still can’t believe it.”

Please contact James Grier for more information about Joy2020 and how you can get involved.