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Spring 2002
The life of the church
Bishop David Smith
The Right Reverend David Smith, the former Bishop of the Bradford Diocese, speaks about his Christian faith and his life in the Church of England.
BBC Religion

Christians believe in one God, with whom they can have a personal relationship and talk to directly like a 'Father' in prayer.

Christians recognise Jesus as the Son of God who was sent to save mankind from sin which all men have committed.

Christians believe in justification by faith - that through their belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and in his death and resurrection, they can have a real relationship with God whose forgiveness was made once and for all through the death of Jesus Christ.

Christians believe that there is a life after death on earth, they call this 'eternal life'.

The best-known Christian festival is Christmas, which is when Jesus was born. The second is Easter, which is when Jesus died and was resurrected from the dead. He then ascended into heaven to sit at the right-hand of God.

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I was always brought up in the Christian faith. I went to the Church of England with my family, I was baptised there as a baby and went to Sunday School.

I left school when I was sixteen and a half and went to work in London. I was interested in joining the Church of England but they said I was very young and should see if I felt the same after I had done my National Service.

Two years later, I still felt God wanted me to become a Vicar and went to Kings College in London to study for the ministry.

My first curacy, was in Newcastle in 1959. I moved around several dioceses and was invited to be Bishop of Maidstone in Kent in 1987. In 1992 I became Bishop of Bradford and have been here nearly ten years.

Bradford is a super place to live and work. Before I came to Bradford I had never been to the city before. I hadn't even met any Hindus, Sikhs or Muslims.

As a Bishop there is no such thing as an average week. I usually work around eighty hours. Sometimes I'm on duty in the House of Lords, or I have meetings for the Synod - that takes up around seven weeks a year.

Apart from that, unless I am on overseas visits, I am in the diocese, visiting clergy, parishioners, and the general public. I also reply to letters, deal with administration and media interviews.

During the foot and mouth crisis, I personally spoke to 80 farmers and wrote to over 500, passing on their concerns to the House of Lords.

When I retire in 2002 I will miss Bradford. I have loved my time here and have many highlights. There has been a highlight in every day I have worked here.

The Church of England works hard at improving race relations, building trust and understanding in communities and over the years there have been a number of significant achievements in this respect. We have begun to lay the foundations for a better Bradford, with more respect and tolerance.

The Church of England is an important part of Bradford. Even though people come from many different faith backgrounds, the Church and Christianity is still as relevant to Bradford as it ever was providing pastoral care to all people of all faiths who may need it.

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You are in West Yorkshire Lifestyle - Faith
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