Photo Credit: Graham Usher
[ACNS] When the relatively new Bishop of Dudley, in the Church of England’s Diocese of Worcester, visited the newly ordained missionary bishops of Peru in the Church of South America this month, he was keen to pass on tips picked up from an international training course for new bishops.
For nearly 25 years the Diocese of Worcester has had a companion link with the Diocese of Peru. Over that time a number of projects have been supported including working with vulnerable and disabled children, women in prison learning sewing skills, and the missionary expansion of the diocese in creating new places of worship. Worcester has also benefitted through shared learning, visits, and links with schools.
The Rt Revd Graham Usher was consecrated as suffragan Bishop of Dudley in March 2014 at the age of 43. He was one of the youngest C of E bishops and the first to have been born in the 1970s. In July last year Alejandro Mesco, Juan Carlos Revilla, and Jorge Luis Aguilar were ordained as missionary bishops – the first Peruvians to be consecrated as bishops – with responsibility for three of four newly carved out missionary areas. The intention is that these areas will become dioceses in a new Anglican Province of Peru.
Bishop Usher visited the new Peruvian bishops this month and said afterwards, “The bonds of affection between the two dioceses are strong and valued. In fact the word ‘affection’ feels a bit limp – there are bonds of deep love, care and charity between us.”
He said that the new Peruvian bishops were “learning their new roles as pastors and shepherds of their flock” and said that “they exude great warmth and are natural evangelists. They recognise that they have much to learn and they are often working in isolated situations.”
Last year Bishop Graham attended the course for new bishops from across the Anglican Communion which is held each year at Canterbury Cathedral. He learnt much from this experience of dialogue and sharing with 37 other bishops from 24 countries. So, in a small way, he was able to pass on this learning to his Peruvian brother bishops during an intensive short course that covered the role of the bishop, sharing our God given gifts, collaborative ministry, communication, the place of the Anglican Communion, and companion links.
“I learnt so much from my time at Canterbury and it was a privilege to pass something of this on,” he said. “I hope that the Peruvian bishops will be able themselves to attend in a future year.”
Speaking about their short course, the Peruvian bishops said, “We thank God for this time together. We have been encouraged, learnt much and we don’t feel so alone. We feel we can now be better bishops. It’s good to be part of this family.”
Bishop Graham learnt much in the process as well, saying, “As always when engaging with others there is a shared learning and I feel privileged to have heard a variety of stories from my brother bishops in Peru about what it is to be a missionary bishop.
“They go to new places, make disciples, baptise and teach. In all of this they are daily living out Jesus’ Great Commission that we read about in Matthew’s Gospel. For me, that’s why being part of the Anglican Communion and attending, listening and learning from each other so enriches my faith.”