• Eckington is an Outstanding Church School!

    24 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    Eckington CE First School are over the moon to announce that they have been recognised as an Outstanding Church School. In June an inspector for Church of England Schools visited the school and inspected the following; Christian Distinctiveness, The Impact of Collective Worship including RE Teaching and The Effectiveness of the leadership. Dr Jones recognised that the school has many strengths and is extremely effective as a Church School. The report said:

    ‘Christian Values are embedded in the life of the school and have a significant impact on children’s social, moral, spiritual and cultural development. The school’s Christian vision is widely and clearly shared so that the school sends out an unambiguous message about its values to parents and the wider community. Spirituality is well-defined and carefully planned, so that children are regularly enabled to reflect on and develop their personal sense of spirituality. The strong partnership between church and school ensures that children’s lives and worship are enriched and the school’s Christian values reinforced.’

    The headteachers Miss Breakwell and Mrs Humphriss have been at the school for just over a year and have together planned development of the Christian Values and Spirituality through an exciting curriculum and strong partnership with the church and families. They have built on the previous Headteacher Gail Whiting’s vision and are incredibly proud of everyone at the school.

    “We are so pleased that the school has been recognised as outstanding. It is a wonderful place here full of kindness, spirituality and a real family feel. We could not have achieved our vision without the staff who give their all and the enthusiasm of the children. We are supported well by the church and the parents who encourage their children beyond the school day in living up to our Christian Values. We are always striving to develop further and are looking to build on the children’s present leadership of worship so that they take full ownership in the future. ”

    Eckington CE First School currently has 88 pupils in 4 mixed age classes and offers a wide range of activities and experiences. The school has extensive grounds and these are used regularly to enhance the children’s learning. The school is very well supported by parents and the community, which was recognised by the inspector. One parent said that “it was difficult to know where school ended and church began.” There is a close partnership between those inside and outside the school and everyone believes in our school motto of ‘Caring, Sharing, Believing and Achieving Together.’

    Eckington CE First School is a place where spirituality and wonder are promoted and where children are taught to question life and also to think deeply about how to solve problems. The school spends time in peaceful reflection and promotes strong British, Christian values. The excellent behaviour was recognised in the report as a real strength of the school. It was also seen that collective worship is central to the school life and inspires the children. The school has recently opened a worship garden and this has been central to celebrating God’s word in his own creation. The children’s voice is vital to how the school develops and grows. The school has an excellent Worship Council led by Assistant Head Mrs Dodd who confidently discuss, reflect and share their ideas and plan festivals. The report reads:

    “Collective worship contains occasions to step back from the busyness of the day and reflect. As a result children are developing a personal sense of spirituality. For example, one child commented that she enjoys collective worship because it is an occasion when she ‘can talk to God, and be quiet and listen to God.’

    Head Gill Humphriss says:

    "At Eckington CE First School we live life to the full, sing our hearts out, support, care and love one another as one complete family."

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  • Cathedral’s new book honours ‘Woodbine Willie’

    22 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    Studdert Kennedy, better known by his nickname of ‘Woodbine Willie’ was a vicar in Worcester and the most famous chaplain of the First World War. He received the Military Cross in 1917 for bravery – retrieving the wounded from ‘no man’s land’ during battle. Even now, his life and writings inspire people to ponder war, life and religious belief.

    The four clergy of the Cathedral, along with the Bishop of Worcester, Dr Mark Dorsett of the King’s School and Dr David Bryer, lay canon of the Cathedral and former director of Oxfam, have each written a chapter of the book, which invites readers to consider different aspects of the First World War in the light of faith. Andrew G. Studdert Kennedy, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy's grandson (pictured in the group photo far right), has written the foreword.

    Canon Michael Brierley, one of the editors, said:

    ‘We’re delighted to have produced this, and hope that it will be of interest to local historians, faith communities and people more generally interested in the First World War.’

    The book was launched today at the Three Choirs Festival in College Hall. The book is available in the Cathedral shop, priced at £15 (RRP £24).

    The book has already had strong endorsements from noted scholars of the First World War:

    "Padres were given a rough ride by British memoir writers of the First World War. However, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, 'Woodbine Willie' to the soldiers, demonstrates how wrong they were. His reflections on the war and its implications for his own Christian faith resonate to this day. The innumerable insights in this powerful book make plain how the conflict's spiritual challenge still reverberates."

    \--Sir Hew Strachan, author of the Oxford University Press history of the First World War

    "Michael Brierley and Georgina Byrne have judiciously gathered these measured essays on ministry, suffering, tragedy, and hope: they leave the reader more immersed in sadness, admiration, desolation, and ultimately faith. After all, if Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy's life was a failure, so was that of Jesus."

    \--Sam Wells, Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

    "Life after Tragedy is a profound and moving account of the struggle of Christian theology with the ravages of the First World War. . . . Essential reading for anyone trying to understand the earthquake that was the Great War."

    \--Jay Winter, Yale University

    "A significant contribution to the flourishing revisionist scholarship on religion and war, the central essays in this volume . . . offer a set of moving, often provocative reflections on the complex and transformative relations between faith and suffering that are as relevant now as they have ever been."

    \--Sue Morgan, University of Chichester, UK

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  • Join our Children's Council

    20 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    We would love it if your child, or if you know of a child in your church that would really benefit from being part of a group of children who meet once a month, having fun and growing in their faith, could join us. Watch the video to find out more.

    For further information contact Emma Pettifer.

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  • New CMS Pioneers in the Diocese

    18 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    Sue Martyr and Sarah Hewitt, lay pioneer ministers in the Diocese, have graduated this week from the Church Mission Society's Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme. CMS's pioneer courses have again seen an increase in numbers graduating with this year's ceremony on 11 July at CMS House in Oxford included a total of 26 students receiving Durham University awards.

    Sue has been employed part time, since last August by the Tolladine Mission which is a small missional community rooted in Toalldine, a 1930s social housing estate in Worcester. She sees her role there as helping to build and rekindle relationships, making people aware of a connection they have with God and being an agent for positive transformation in the locality. Sue has lived in the area for 18 years, but in the last year, with her husband, has moved into the former vicarage so that it might become a more accessible and valuable community resource.

    The Pioneer Mission Leadership programme, which was first established in 2010, is a creative way of equipping and mobilising Christians for ground-breaking, transformational and sustainable mission. Jonny Baker, Director of Mission Education at CMS, explained how the programme has been designed to provide a diverse approach to training pioneers.

    "The course gives pioneers a supportive learning community ? a place to belong, as well as equipping and empowering them to initiate and follow through with mission projects that have a wider impact on the Church and society."

    The Church of England has recognised that pioneers are vital for the future of the Church and the Church Mission Society's Pioneer Mission Leadership training programme provides a designated pathway for ordination as an Ordained Pioneer Minister (OPM) - alongside the more traditional routes for ordination and lay ministry.

    Jonny Baker concluded:

    "Mission Pioneers are giving the Church a glimpse of the future, where mission will not be delivered solely by large para-church organisations, but increasingly through agile, innovative and creative pioneers, witnessing 'love in action'."

    To read more about the CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme please visit www.pioneer.churchmissionsociety.org

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  • Flood appeal raises £10,000 for Peru

    17 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    An appeal from the Bishop of Worcester to raise funds to help the Diocese of Peru following serious flooding has raised over £10,000, thanks to the generosity of church members throughout Worcestershire and Dudley.

    The appeal was launched at Easter after many parts of Peru were hit by devastating flooding following heavy rains brought about by El Niño. The Diocese of Worcester has a friendship link with the Diocese of Peru and many of our churches have individual links with people and projects in the country. The appeal aimed to raise money to help the Peruvian diocese as they sought to provide relief and emergency aid to those local communities affected.

    Bishop John said:

    It was heart-breaking to see so many communities in Peru experiencing death and destruction because of the flooding. I knew that many in our churches wanted to do something to help but the generosity in response to the appeal has been overwhelming. The Diocese of Peru will be able to make a real difference with the money that we’ve sent. I’m enormously grateful to everyone who contributed.”

    The Diocese of Peru initially asked if churches in Worcestershire and Dudley could help raise £8,000 to help with the relief work. The amount sent to Peru was actually £10,259.

    The Bishop of Peru, Bishop Jorge Luis Aguilar, said:

    “Peru has been submitted to days of devastation, sadness, hunger and helplessness. Moments in which the rains, rivers and indifference almost drown all hope. But it was in the middle of the storm (Mark 4:39) that Jesus lifted us up from the frustration and woke our capacity for solidarity and immediate support for the most needy and defenceless: elderly, children and animals. Thank you, because with your prayers and offerings you are participating in ‘Help us to help others’.”

    Mission Development Officer, Doug Chaplin helped to co-ordinate the donations. He said:

    “This generous response shows one of the practical fruits of our 20 year partnership with the Diocese of Peru, built up with prayers and friendship visits over time. This time we have been able to fund the Diocese of Peru’s relief work for the wider community devastated by floods: our shared partnership has enabled us to work together for the benefit of others.”

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  • Will the poor always be with us?

    14 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    From time to time I arrange day visits around a theme so that I can meet people across the voluntary, public and private sectors involved in making a better society in Dudley. In early July I spent a day finding out more about benefits, poverty and debt.

    Having heard that there was an increased demand for basic provisions from food banks, I was keen to find out what was really going on and get under the skin of the benefits system. Universal Credit has just been rolled out in Dudley. The Cameron government’s flagship reform to the benefits system had the laudable aim of making claiming much easier, wrapping six benefits into one, as well as encouraging those who are able to seek work. I wanted to see how it was working.

    Throughout my day, I was shocked by what I discovered.

    My first visit was to Brierley Hill Citizens' Advice, often the first port of call for people who are utterly confused by the benefits system. To claim Universal Credit you need an email address and bank account and many of the most vulnerable people in our society have neither of these. The online forms can be complex and difficult for many people to understand. Making a genuine mistake can set you back to the beginning again. The help of Citizens' Advice volunteers makes a big difference to struggling claimants but I kept hearing about their frustration with the system.

    I heard also about delays in benefit payments being made and people having to wait up to 12 weeks for their payments to begin. Imagine no income for such a period. How would you pay rent or buy food or pay your utility bills if you had no savings? This can all too easily create the arena for loan sharks targeting people, others being taken advantage of, or a downward spiral into mental illness.

    The Black Country Food Bank is one agency that is there to provide some support for people in desperate need. Churches are, apparently, its greatest donors. So thank you for all you are doing. I saw around the warehouse and was deeply impressed with the systematic organisation of the stock and the compassion of the staff. But, please, give baked beans a miss for a while – they’ve got enough to make a significant dent in the ozone layer! Their needs change from week to week and are posted on http://www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk/what-can-i-donate/ Now is the time, away from their bumper donation periods of harvest and Christmas, when the shelves are running low.

    Later in the day I visited a debt and finance support team, hearing about some of the chronic situations that they come across daily, and visited Dudley Council Plus which can provide emergency loans via the Castle and Crystal Credit Union. As a diocese we support the work of this credit union, and I’ve opened a personal account with them. They need other local people to do the same so that they can support more people in need http://www.castleandcrystal.co.uk/savings_how_to_join.php

    Poverty remains a scourge on the face of British society. It stacks the odds ever higher against people and it results not just in material disadvantage but poorer health, poorer education, poorer work, poorer housing and poorer opportunities. As Christians we are called to live in the imitation of Jesus who came to “preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and release the oppressed" (Luke 4:18). When we are good news to those living in poverty, when we take care to hear their stories and not be blind to poverty, and when we speak out for what is intolerable in a healthy society, so a momentum for change grows and God’s Kingdom draws near.

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  • The Revd Fran Battin plans charity skydive

    12 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    On 16 September, the Revd Fran Battin will do a tandem skydive in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. Fran said:

    “I am definitely not an adrenalin addict, but for several months the idea of doing a tandem sky dive has been haunting me. As the days have gone on I have talked about it and researched it on line. In a mad impulsive moment, I booked a charity jump and I hope to be in the sky mid-September. I have several friends who are experiencing the first stages of dementia and my husband work was with sufferers of Alzheimer’s Disease, so it is logical for me to want to support the Alzheimer’s Disease Society.

    "When your brain no longer works normally it is very frightening and can be dangerous. Imagine forgetting where you live or letting a saucepan boil dry. A close friend is so afraid of forgetting the names of her sons that she has had them tattooed onto her arm. Now she will never forget!

    "A sky dive jump is totally out of character for me and the only sense I can make out of the desire to experience one is that during the fall you have no choice but to put all your trust in another human being, and all your faith in a protecting loving God.

    "You have one life, one chance of experiencing all it has to offer. If you have a dream pursue it and grab opportunities as and when they come."

    If you would like to donate to Fran, you can do so at: www.everyclick.com/franbattin

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  • Welfare and Charity in the Black Country

    6 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    Bishop Graham said:

    "I've had a fascinating day hearing how so much of the charitable sector, in an age of austerity where there are many cuts to services, are providing the most wonderful care for people in our communities"

    View some photos from the visit.

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  • Cathedral awarded endowment grant to fund the training and development of the Cathedral Choir

    4 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    The individual vocal lessons are critically important because they substantially improve the quality of performance of the Choir as a whole and they also ensure that their voices are developing properly. Currently the boys receive up to 5 individual lessons of 20 minutes duration per term. The Probationers are informally tutored by the Organ and Choral Scholars. The Choral and Organ Scholars and the Lay Clerks only receive occasional tuition and the girls receive no vocal tuition at all. It is a condition of endowment grants that the funds are invested and only the interest yielded may be used to fund the project.

    Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral, Dr Peter Nardone said:

    ‘Worcester Cathedral is delighted to receive this endowment grant of £20,000 from the Friends of Cathedral Music in support of the Cathedral choir. This welcome grant will help us to create a structured programme of vocal training for all members of the Cathedral Choir and also assist us greatly with our recruitment of new Choristers.’

    The Cathedral hosted a special Evensong and reception last year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Friends of Cathedral Music and this grant will be formally presented to the Cathedral by the Friends of Cathedral Music after Choral Evensong on Saturday 30th September, 2017.

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  • Near Neighbours Grant Now Open

    4 Jul 2017 • Diocesan News

    Near Neighbours has two key objectives:

    Social interaction - to develop positive relationships in multi-faith and multi-ethnic areas i.e. to help people from different faiths and ethnicities get to know and understand each other better. Social action - to encourage people of different faiths and of no faith and of different ethnicities to come together for initiatives that improve their local neighbourhood.

    Grants between £250 and £5,000 are available for local groups and organisations who are working to bring together neighbours, to develop relationships across diverse faiths and ethnicities in order to improve their communities.

    These must be local initiatives, planned by and involving local people, which has a specific local impact. Applications from diverse neighbourhoods will be preferable and those with particular issues of deprivation and other challenges, as well as where there is the intention and likelihood of deep and lasting relationships of trust between people, in order to transform communities.

    Please visit the Near Neighbours website for more information and to read the grant criteria and guidance in full.

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