The Bishop of Grafton, Rt. Rev Dr. Sarah Macneil has announced her early retirement, effective 3 March 2018. Full text of the pastoral letter follows:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Since 1 March 2014 we have journeyed together as disciples of Christ. When Ian and I arrived in the Diocese you had already faced some significant challenges, providing generous financial assistance to stabilise CVAS, and facing the legacy of past abuse in the life of the Diocese. There was a sense of deep lament for that dark part of our history and a determination to make amends and embrace God’s calling into the future.

Over the last three and a half years we have done much together to strengthen the life of the  diocese. As I noted in this year’s Presidential Address to the Synod, we can point to particular achievements: improvements in communication, the stabilising of the Diocese’s finances and administration, an effective and engaged Bishop in Council, increasing capacity in many of our Boards and Councils, and among the clergy. I believe there is also a greater trust between ministry units and the Diocesan leadership and administration, a stronger sense of the Diocese as a whole and a deepening of understanding about the need to be open to the change that God is leading us into.

We are living into the future we had hoped for, as followers of Christ, and are increasingly prepared to make the difficult decisions necessary for our communities of faith to adapt to the changing times. The Diocesan strategic planning discussions currently being held across the Diocese are an important part of continuing this work.

I had both hoped and expected that I would continue in office until my 65th birthday in early 2020, and have been planning on that basis. Some of you will be aware, however, that the last little while has presented health challenges for both me and for Ian. The medical advice we have received is that continuing to do what we are doing is simply not sustainable. As a consequence, I am retiring with effect from Saturday 3 March 2018. I will lay up my pastoral staff in the Cathedral on that day. There will also be an opportunity to say goodbye in both the north and the south of the Diocese during February for those who are not able to come to Grafton on 3 March.

From 4 March 2018 the Diocesan Archdeacon, Gail Hagon, will be the Administrator of the Diocese. The transitional arrangements will be discussed in the 16 November 2017 meeting of Bishop-in-Council. There is great strength in the clergy and lay leadership of the Diocese and I am confident that you will be well cared for and well led. It is my hope and prayer that the work we have done together will prove to be a solid platform on which to build and I  would like to pay tribute to those who serve the Diocese so selflessly in leadership positions.

Ian and I have been prayerfully and lovingly supported by you in our ministry here and it has been a privilege to serve you. We have come to know and love you and are disappointed that our time here has been shorter than we had hoped. God’s love for us all is steadfast and we know that, in God’s providence, all shall be well. You shall always be in our prayers and in our hearts.

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