Lancashire’s new Bishop Rt Rev Julian Henderson has paid tribute to the life and service of Nelson Mandela.
A book of condolence for the former South African president has been opened at Blackburn Cathedral.
Bishop Julian who has close links with the Bishop of the Free State, South Africa through the ‘linked diocese’ initiative said he hoped many people would be inspired to follow Madiba’s humility and joy.
He said: “In 2010, on a visit to South Africa, I had the amazing privilege to visit Robbin Island and stand at the door of the cell where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned.
“His resilience and courage in the face of unjust and cruel opposition for those 27 years, followed by his forgiveness (‘let bygones be bygones’) has made the world, and particularly the people of South Africa, stand amazed that the human spirit is capable of such strength and generosity.
“And now that his earthly life has drawn to a close, we pause to give thanks to God for a life that has had such an impact and made so great a difference.”
The Diocese of Blackburn and the Anglican Diocese of the Free State have had close ties for a number of years.
The Free State Bishop, Rt Rev Dintoe Letloenyane attended the inauguration service for Bishop Julian at Blackburn Cathedral in October
He said: “The country is in shock right now and we must give thanks to God for the gift of Madiba. He was a great man but a very humble man as well.
“Mandela loved children and there is a fundraising campaign ongoing here to build the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. That campaign will continue in his memory.
Bishop Dintoe added: “We have lost a great man who motivated the Church here in South Africa to look at itself in a new light.
“As a Church, as we teach our children about the importance of reconciliation, unity, justice and democracy we should ensure we also teach them about great lives lived; like Madiba, who embodied a belief in all of these things.
“We should never let his spirit die.”