Verabschiedung des Dean von Chichester

Grußwort von Regionalbischöfin Dr. Dorothea Greiner zur Verabschiedung von Dean Nicholas Frayling, Chichester, am 2. Februar 2014

Words of Greeting on the occasion of the farewell of Nicholas Frayling, Dean of Chichester

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
especially our dear Dean of Chichester, dear friend Nicholas,

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to speak here today, also on behalf of the other European ecumenical partners connected with this cathedral.

When meeting ecumenically, we frequently see more clearly the weaknesses and problems of our own church, but also its strengths and its beauty. Rarely do we experience the binding power of faith in Jesus Christ more strongly than when we come together from different languages and churches and celebrate together in worship. Through an active ecumenism faith develops towards its inner core, and at the same time the horizon expands.
For this to happen there need to be those who perpetuate the ecumenical spirit with heart and mind, and this is what you did as Dean of Chichester. You fostered and furthered ecumenical relationships during your term of office. Because it was personally important to you—and this includes all of you, dear brothers and sisters in Chichester—you have become our friends in Christ.

As a symbol of the fact that in my ministry as regional bishop I am mindful of my role within an ecumenical setting, I requested your laying on of hands at my installation on Palm Sunday, in two thousand and nine. And you see: God’s blessing through you continues to be effective.
 In the same year we met again, this time in Coburg. I led the delegation of the regional church in Bayreuth which hosted the Coburg Conference.  You led the Anglican delegation from Chichester.—I must explain briefly: The so-called Coburg Conference is quite unique in the church partnerships in Europe. It meets every two years since nineteen eighty-five and is hosted in turn by each of the four partner churches:
the Anglican Diocese of Chichester,
the Lutheran Regional Church of Bayreuth,
the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bamberg
and the Protestant Church of Berlin -Brandenburg  Silesian Upper Lausitz.
In the course of time local parish partnerships developed between these churches, together with mutual visits, also including the choirs of Chichester, Bamberg and the College of Church Music in Bayreuth. You, Nicholas, with your love and talent for church music promoted these musical partnerships.

You were present at all the meetings that I attended and headed the Anglican delegation. With your clarity of thought and your wit, with your feeling for beauty and an intuitive grasp of what is central to the Christian faith, the conversations we had were a spiritual, intellectual and cultural delight which has endeared us to the Anglican Church, to Chichester and to you.

With your ecumenical involvement you have also upheld and carried on the Chichester tradition. From the very beginning of your term of office you appreciated the significance of Bishop George Bell’s heritage: during and after the Second World War he had built bridges to Christians all over Europe and especially to Germany.

The close friendship between Bell and Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the real basis for the restoration of what is now the George Bell House as a centre for church groups, a venue for international reconciliation, education and the arts—and a gracious guesthouse as well. You can be justly proud of that. The first time I visited George Bell House I saw the Bayreuth room and was delighted at this eloquent signal that we as brothers and sisters of the faith offer one another a place that can be called ‘home’.
Of course Canon of Honour Wolfgang Klausnitzer, the head of the Catholic delegation, has been accommodated in the Bayreuth room, with me in the Bamberg room, a sign no doubt of English humour —and of ecumenical earnestness.

People from many different Christian churches and nations, above all from Chartres in France and Ravenna in Italy find welcome here; for together with your excellent team you have extended the ecumenical and cultural contacts.

I believe that one of your favourite quotes is a French proverb: ‘La où Dieu vous a semé, il faut savoir fleurir’— ‘Where God has sown you, there you must learn to flower’. Dear Nicholas, you have flowered here from the strength which faith in Christ imparts and you have attracted others to breathe in the fragrance of faith in the cathedral. You have flowered for all of us here. May the Triune God continue to sprinkle you with the water of life that you may long bloom and flourish where he is now sowing you.
God bless you.