Bishop Graham Cray is an unusual bishop. I remember him when he was Vicar of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, York, in the 1970’s, when he had hair down to his waist, and used to give talks about spiritual themes in contemporary rock music.
Then, in what was to some a surprising change of direction, he became Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, one of the leading theological colleges in Britain. After nine years, he went on to become Bishop of Maidstone, during which time he chaired the committee which produced the ground-breaking Church of England Report, Mission-Shaped Church, which sold 30,000 copies before being made available free online here.
In recent months, Bishop Cray has been appointed the second Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions for the Church of England, succeeding theRev. Dr. Steve Croft, who went on to become Bishop of Sheffield.
Graham was in Toronto recently as one of the plenary speakers at Wycliffe College’s annual Refresh conference. While he was there, he met with various groups trying to encourage the growth of fresh expressions of church in Canada. He spent a day with theological educators, representing four seminaries, to talk about how theological education needs to change in order to prepare ordinands for the reality of our missionary situation.
Bishop Colin Johnson hosted a lunch for Graham and his wife, the Rev. Jackie Cray, to talk with Archbishop Fred Hiltz and Bishop Linda Nicholls about what Canada might learn from the experience of the Church of England. Conversation revolved particularly about the need to recruit ordinands with a pioneering spirit.
Canada has its own Fresh Expressions Team leader, the Rev. Nick Brotherwood, an Anglican church planter from Montreal. So far, half a dozen Vision Days-the basic building block for understanding fresh expressions of church-have been held. The six-session Mission Shaped Intro course has been run several times, and plans are afoot to offer it again in the fall. And arrangements are moving forward to introduce the year-long Mission Shaped Ministry course to Canada by September 2010.
We are grateful to Bishop Cray for his time, wisdom and encouragement.