Ask the Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, what he enjoys most about his work and he’ll tell you it’s seeing Christianity making a difference in the community.
“The message of Christmas is that Jesus came to be part of everyday life and show us how to live for God and for others,” he says.
“We might not all agree on how we move the Church forward, but what we do share is the same aspiration to live out our faith in the way that we lead our lives.
“Here in Winchester, charities like the Winchester Churches Night Shelter and the Food Bank make a big difference, with church schools and activities like playgroups, lunches for older people and parish visiting schemes all contributing to the lives of others. It’s a real privilege to meet people who give so much to their communities.”
Bishop Tim also has a part to play at a national level. Overseeing the 42 dioceses that make up the Church of England, bishops also contribute to church policy and strategy. “As the Bishop of Winchester I sit in the House of Lords, where I serve as the Church of England’s spokesperson on further and higher education,” he says.
“The Church was the first organisation to offer education to all in the community and continues to play an active part in educational leadership and in the spiritual life of educational settings of all kinds.”
At Winchester Cathedral Bishop Tim will be joining Dean Catherine Ogle to lead services this Christmas. “People come to church for all sorts of reasons, but at Christmas those who might not worship at any other time of year often come and join us,” he says.
“It’s a time for reflection and togetherness and it’s always our hope that by connecting with them in our parishes and in the cathedral we can encourage them to come again and discover Christianity for themselves.”
His official residence might be Wolvesey Palace, where he lives in the old servants’ quarters, but it’s the simple things about living in Winchester that he loves the best. “My Saturday treat is a really good coffee with the papers at Costa,” he says. “If I’m not catching up with a gritty detective series I also like a decent walk – the kind that gets your heart pumping a bit.
“One of my favourites is to the top of St Giles Hill. The lights of the city after dark, especially at Christmas, always give me a tremendous sense of wonder and peace.”