Archbishop's farewell tribute to Bishop of Truro
Thursday 14th February 2008The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a farewell speech at the General Synod to mark the retirement of the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd William Ind.
I hope that my colleagues in the House of Bishops will understand and perhaps forgive if I say that meetings of the House of Bishops occasionally need a touch of humanising, a touch of deflating, a touch of the scent of reality and the two Bishops to whom we are saying farewell on this occasion have provided all of those and more in huge abundance. It's my sad duty in many ways to pay tribute and farewell to the Bishop of Truro and the Bishop of Sheffield this afternoon. I will begin with Bill Ind who has been twenty years a Bishop, forty years a priest and forty years a married man to Frances. Before consecration to Grantham, he served as a parish priest in Basingstoke and spent fifteen years building up a parish from very small beginnings there and in 1987 was invited to be Bishop of Grantham. I gather that on the day he had to make his decision about this, he was doing a school visit and a child in the class he was visiting apparently asked him, 'Do you have to be called to be a Bishop?' Now very naturally he took that as the voice of the Holy Spirit until further clarification revealed that in fact the child had been asking 'Do you have to be bald to be a Bishop?' It is a new criteria and it doesn't appear in most of what we say about the Episcopal office but I commend it to my colleagues on the CNC for future reference. His reputation in Grantham was of someone who cared about the small places as well as the large scene and I think it can reasonably be said that in all his time in Truro that has characterised his ministry even more; someone who has been deeply concerned for the small places. Who has been visible in the Diocese, who has made remoter parts of the Diocese feel loved and attended too. He was appointed to Truro in 1997 and they tell me that it is never an easy transition from outside to Cornwall but Bill has managed it was the most exceptional success. I was happy to read some months ago Bill the poem that you sent me that had been composed by one of your flock in Truro paying lengthy, extravagant and fairly earthly tribute to your talents as Bishop of Truro and I think all the people of Cornwall and the Scilly Isles too - and I mention the Scilly Isles because they can get forgotten in this – all the people of Cornwall and the Scilly Isles have felt that they have had a pastor, an advocate and a friend. Bill has identified with the whole community at quite difficult times. Cornwall is not simply the chocolate box tourist attraction that some people who don't know it at all fancy that it is. When he first became Bishop the area was struggling both with the challenges of economic depression and regeneration. Investments in projects like the Eden Centre which Bill blessed when it was still a clay pit and with the University life of the region, came in its context of it Designated Objective One region in Europe. That is a region which has levels of poverty on a par with some of the most deprived areas of the continent. Bill has been vocal throughout on all the issues of his Diocese. He has represented his people at the highest level and made their voice heard. The pressures that have come on rural communities often are familiar to many in this Synod and Bill has been a very eloquent advocate on all kinds of issues around here; the shortage of housing for key workers in rural areas – key workers like teachers, the appalling pressures on farming communities intensified by the foot and mouth crisis in which he and the Church were very much to the fore. The Diocese is a fairly recent creation and doesn't have the cushion of lots of historic endowments so in 2001 Bill began a serious review of the life of the ministry of the Diocese of Truro under the title 'People of God'. And that radical review of how the Diocese organises its life and work has tried to make sure that the gifts of pastoral care and ministry in the whole Church are released for the whole Church. Bill has been taken to the heart of the Diocese of Truro in a very big way. Not many Bishops can claim to have turned into the stars of their own television series but I think that what we have seen on our screens has been just – the tip of the iceberg sounds quite wrong, quite chilly but perhaps a spark from the fire would be rather better of what Bill habitually and regularly does in Cornwall. It has made him appreciated as a pastor far beyond the limits of the Church of England and it has given many people a model for understanding Episcopal ministry at its very best. But Bill has also worked for the wider Church in rather more conventional ways, through his membership of the Doctrine Commission for example, where of course his training at Mirfield – pause for applause – and his appreciation of the early Church fathers – pause for further applause – have made him a deeply valued contributor. And he belongs to that very select group of Bishops that have had beers named after them. I haven't tasted Bishop Bill's Brew but next time I am in Cornwall I look forward to it as I am told that it tastes heavenly. Bill's passion for the natural world around has led him into explorations in moor and fen around Cornwall looking for orchids on which he is something of an expert and his retirement – well, we all hope it will be long and happy but undoubtedly fairly muddy! I have to say adding a personal touch to this that one thing Bill shares with my twelve year old son is a passion for Sherlock Holmes and when we were visiting last summer in Cornwall I have vivid memories of a long country walk, fairly muddy, Pip and the Bishop striding on ahead completely engrossed in the finer points of textual criticism about the Sherlock Holmes stories while the rest of the family stumbled along behind. Bill and Frances also, we are greatly in your debt for everything you have given us, for everything you have given the Diocese of Truro and through that gift given the whole Church. We have valued you, delighted in you and wish you every happiness and every blessing in the years ahead. Thank you for being yourself.