10 May 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Charles Ryle, the 1st Bishop of Liverpool.
Benjamin Disraeli, the Prime Minister of the day, invited John Ryle to become Bishop of Liverpool in 1880.
The new Bishop was from the Evangelical wing of the Church of England. He was surprised to receive the invitation and was concerned that he was too old for the task. Disraeli assured him that he would live for a few years yet and was proved correct.
He began his ministry on July 1st 1880 and came to live at the Bishop’s Palace in Abercromby Square, Liverpool with his wife and daughter Jessie.
Every third year he delivered his Episcopal Charge to the clergy of the Diocese and held a Diocesan conference annually. The charge in 1881 set the tone for his future ministry; throughout his episcopate – he made it a priority to recruit more clergy and lay ministers and built many more churches. Before clergy were ordained they attended a retreat at Bishop’s Palace and the Bishop gave a series of addresses. Diocesan clergy could call on their Bishop on any Tuesday morning.
The Bishop valued the work of the Scripture Readers who were paid lay workers. There were about 50 licensed Readers in the Diocese.