Thursday, 13 December 2007

Bishop of Wakefield aims to make an impression

WITHOUT the gift of prophecy, it's difficult to be certain. But there's a good chance that tomorrow there'll be more people in Wesley Owen's, the bookshop in Vicar Lane, Leeds, where they do religion, than there will be in the next door Chinese supermarket where they go in for Szechuan sauce and star anise.
Why? Because there's a book signing being done by a Yorkshire church leader who has been dubbed an ecclesiastical Rory Bremner.

Stephen Platten, bishop of Wakefield, does, for instance, a remarkably good Robert Runcie, the now deceased former Archbishop of Canterbury who was his old boss when he was the primate's secretary for ecumenical affairs at Lambeth Palace. Platten captures with amazing accuracy the voice of Runcie, which was a strange mixture of Malcolm Muggeridge and Frankie Howerd.

Not that there is likely to be any mimicking of anybody by the Bishop of Wakefield at tomorrow's book signing. The exercise is rather too serious and weighty a matter for any episcopal tomfoolery.

Stephen Platten, like all his brother bishops, along with probably every vicar in the land, is painfully aware of the fact that the Church of England has tragically lost touch with the vast majority of people and urgently needs to recapture their hearts and minds.

It must, that is, win back the unchurched millions by somehow bringing them to a renewed sense of knowledge about and confidence in God. The challenge, as he admits in his new book, Rebuilding Jerusalem: The
Church's hold on hearts and minds, is immense.

How to even begin? Platten, who has been Bishop of Wakefield since 2003, and was previously Dean of Norwich, thinks the tired old CofE must show more of a commitment to the poor. He also believes there's a need for a rediscovery of engagement with mystery. Read more
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