Skip to content

Pastoral Letter – July 2024

'God loves you.'


The Rt Revd Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby, writes a farewell pastoral letter:

“God loves you.” Bishop Michael Baughen whispered those words just after he laid hands on me, at my ordination as priest in Chester Cathedral. It took me aback: the words of the service were all scripted, we had been carefully rehearsed, and everything seemed so formal. And then a secret whisper: ‘God loves you.’

It’s now 29 years since I first came to York, as Precentor at the Minster. As cathedral canon, archdeacon and bishop, I have met so many extraordinary and wonderful people; seen people grow in faith, discipleship and ministry; and I have had the best colleagues that anyone could wish for. Like any minister, I have been with people at the turning points of life, and when its troubles and confusions have threatened to overwhelm them. And you have been there for me too — thank you.

Paul wrote to the Romans: ‘We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.’

Paul could have been writing to us, with all our different abilities and responsibilities. Whatever your role, you will have concerns that can be daunting. But being God’s co-workers, the ambassadors and messengers of God’s love, is the reason why we do all the work, why we run the projects, why we have all those meetings.

It has been such a privilege to be part of this diocese’s life and work. I’m confident that God has more great opportunities in store. And whatever happens along the way, especially if it’s tough at times, hear the whisper: God loves you.