Farewell service for Bishop of Liverpool

A farewell service will be taking place for the Bishop of Liverpool on Wednesday.

The Right Reverend James Jones formally retires as Bishop of Liverpool on his 65th birthday on August 18.

Bishop Jones chaired the independent panel into the Hillsborough Disaster and will continue to have a role within the Hillsborough process after his retirement.

He will also be part of a new Radio 4 series, the Bishop and the Banker, which will air on July 22.

The Bishop of Warrington, the Right Reverend Richard Blackburn will have pastoral oversight of the Diocese of Liverpool until a successor has been appointed, most likely in spring 2014.

The farewell service for Bishop Jones takes place at Liverpool Cathedral at 7:30pm, and will be joined by serving as well as retired clergy, congregation members and civic dignitaries.

The choir will sing the Prayer of Henry VI, which was sung as Bishop Jones entered the Cathedral at his enthronement 15 years ago.

There will be readings by Mayor Joe Anderson and the bishop's wife, Sarah, while Bishop Jones will deliver his final sermon.

During the service, symbols will be presented representing different facets of the bishop's ministry, including the Hillsborough Book of Remembrance, a book of Psalms, and the Prisoners Prayer.

There will also be the presentation of a specially commissioned portrait of the bishop by Aberdeen artist Nicole Porter, which will hang in Bishop's Lodge alongside the portraits of his predecessors.

The service will draw to a close with Bishop Jones handing the pastoral staff to Bishop Blackburn with the words: "Bishop Richard, I hand to you this sign of pastoral care and oversight in the diocese of Liverpool. May God surround the people of this diocese with his love and fill your hearts with courage, strength and peace now and in the days to come."

Bishop Blackburn said, "We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Bishop James for the way in which he has skilfully, sensitively led our diocese over the past fifteen years.

"His gift of leadership, shown in so many ways, is an example to us all and stands as a testament to his ministry with us.

"On behalf of the diocese, the church, the city and the entire region I thank God for his time with us and pray that he and Sarah are truly blessed as they enter the next phase of their lives together".

Bishop Jones said, "The word in my heart is simply to say 'thank you'. Thank you to God for calling me to Liverpool. Thank you to you for your ministry to me. Thank you to my close colleagues with whom in 15 years of working there has never been an angry word. Thank you to my family and especially Sarah without whom I would not and could not have been Bishop of Liverpool."