The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, has called for an end to vaccine hoarding and for more compassion towards refugees in her 2022 New Year message. 

Speaking at the turn of the year, Bishop Rose said, “As we begin the start of this New Year, it is important that we recognise that the virus is still with us  – and that we ask our government to renew its efforts and lobby others in the West to start intentionally rolling out the vaccine to the rest of the world and not to hoard it here.

2022 must also be the year when we constructively engage with our politicians (local and national) about addressing the migrant crisis – not with sticking plasters and soundbites to score political points, but with compassion, addressing the real issues of poverty, war and climate change.

“If this New Year is going to mean something for us of significance, then we will need to reimagine ourselves anew… We will need to commit ourselves to creating the change we want to see in our communities, our country our world and our Church.”

Bishop Rose’s New year message follows: 

For many of us, 2021 appears to have been a continuation of 2020 – the year when we were rudely introduced to Covid-19, experienced lockdown, watched with bated breath our friends and relatives who got the virus and wondering whether they would survive, mourned those who lost their lives, saw those who worked for the NHS giving their all and working every possible hour of the day to protect the hospitalised suffering from the virus.

We saw our children being taught from home, we complied by wearing masks, encouraged our friends, our families and those in our communities to take the vaccine so that we and others could remain safe. We saw heroic efforts by many in the community as they reached out to the vulnerable and many who were shielding, making sure they had food and their medication.

Within our churches we wrestled with what it meant to have our doors locked. When we were opened it was all hands to the deck in cleaning and sanitising and making sure people were socially distanced and wearing their mask. Some agreed with the steps taken – others thought it was a step too far.

With our churches being closed we found ourselves adopting new ways of being ‘Church’ – we began YouTubing, Zooming and Facebooking (assuming there are such words!). For many it was a welcome relief to be able to connect with the wider Church – many non-churchgoers were delighted that they could engage with church without being in church. They loved the anonymity it afforded!

We recognise that there were financial challenges too. With people not attending they did not continue their giving! With church halls also being closed, churches lost the income from properties they own. Cathedrals also lost out financially, too, as visitor numbers dropped sharply.

One of the lessons we have to learn from Covid-19 is that we will remain vulnerable to this virus until the whole world is vaccinated. Notice that I did not say that it was a lesson that we have learned as I believe we are yet to learn that lesson, even as we try to encourage the ‘home crowd’ to take their booster – we are still forgetting the rest of the world.

So, as we begin the start of this New Year, it is important that we recognise that the virus is still with us  – and that we ask our government to renew its efforts and lobby others in the West to start intentionally rolling out the vaccine to the rest of the world and not to hoard it here.

2022 must also be the year when we constructively engage with our politicians (local and national) about addressing the migrant crisis – not with sticking plasters and soundbites to score political points, but with compassion, addressing the real issues of poverty, war and climate change. 

If this New Year is going to mean something for us of significance, then we will need to reimagine ourselves anew – and not modelled on last year. We will need to commit ourselves to creating the change we want to see in our communities, our country our world and our Church.

I want to see that change, I want to be part of a world where the creed and the colour and the name won’t matter – where we will just respond to each other’s humanity with love and generosity. This is what will be at the heart of my prayer. As I study the scripture, I will look for examples of God’s people modelling love, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity. And then I will commit to sharing that good news in words and deeds with all.

I wish you joy and happiness for the New Year.

By Ed

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