Rt Rev Tom Wright hosted his last event as Bishop of Durham at Auckland Castle on Sunday 25 July, before retiring on 31 August 2010 to take up a new appointment as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
Fittingly, the event, entitled Jazz and Jam, was a garden party to celebrate the work of international relief and development agency Christian Aid, a charity Bishop Tom has supported over many years.
Since his arrival back in his North East homeland in 2003, a keen hill-walker, he has taken part in Christian Aid's Pennine Pilgrimage and Bede's Way Sponsored Walk as well as leading the six-mile leg of the 1000-mile Cut the Carbon March into Durham City in 2007. He has also contributed as writer and speaker to the Act Justly resources and conferences, appearing alongside fellow activists for social justice Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis and Steve Chalke.
Over 250 Christian Aid supporters of all ages and denominations turned up with their picnics to enjoy the historic castle and grounds at Bishop Auckland, the ancient home of Durham’s Prince Bishops, and to bid farewell to Bishop Tom and his wife, Maggie Wright.
The guests included the new Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Deacon Eunice Atwood and Christian Aid’s Director Loretta Minghella OBE who was visiting the region for the first time since taking up her appointment in April.
The climax of the day was a service at the Castle’s St Peter’s Chapel which was packed to capacity; at this final celebration as Bishop, Tom preached on Matthew 5: 1 – 16, the Sermon on the Mount, stating that Christian Aid today provides us the with the opportunity to embody the counter-cultural values of the Beatitudes, following Jesus’ example.
Speaking afterwards, Bishop Tom said:
'This is just the sort of event that Auckland Castle was made for, and how appropriate for me that it should be a celebration of Christian Aid’s work when ending poverty is so central to the good news of God’s Kingdom of justice and mercy.'
Paying tribute to Bishop Tom, event organiser, Christian Aid's Senior Regional Coordinator, Kerry Crellin said:
'Although we’ll miss him greatly, we'll treasure the legacy that Bishop Tom leaves with us: through his actions, his writing, his speaking and his preaching, Bishop Tom proclaims the Gospel of Christ; the good news of a world transformed by God’s justice, truth and love.
'He reminds us of our calling to partner with Christ in His transforming work in the present, and he inspires us with the vision of a solid future hope of everything put to rights, surely a vision that will see us through the turbulent and challenging times that we face.'
If you would like further information please contact Kerry Crellin on 0191 228 0115 firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hour press duty phone - 07850 242950.
Notes to editors
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.
2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty. Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development. Further details at http://www.actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk