• Cathedral Education Team Wins Prestigious National Award

    23 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    At its national awards ceremony on 16th November, the Council gave the Cathedral’s team of educational volunteers the prestigious ‘Inspiring Educator’ award in recognition of its work in firing the enthusiasm of visiting educational groups. The awards are presented annually by the CLOtC in celebration of those who have had a significant impact on the lives of children and young people through their commitment to providing exciting and inspiring learning opportunities outside the classroom. In presenting the award, the organisers commended the ‘profound and lasting impact’ volunteers have had on students from Worcestershire and beyond over the last 20 years.

    The Cathedral was initially shortlisted for the award by a panel of expert judges who reviewed hundreds of nominees, selecting just 4 to go forward to a public vote. Benjamin Smith, the Cathedral’s Director of Education and Learning, said: ‘The commitment and dedication shown by each of our volunteers to creating engaging and memorable learning experiences for students of all ages is exemplary and has enabled us to establish a reputation for excellence within the local educational sector. The lasting impact of their work is clear from the feedback the Cathedral receives from teachers, many of whom voted for us to receive this award.’

    This accolade continues the success of the Cathedral’s education team, whose work played a key role in the Cathedral recently receiving initial support for a £1.2 million National Lottery grant to conserve and bring into public use for the first time the 12th century Undercroft to College Hall. This will create a unique historic venue to facilitate learning, arts and heritage for the whole community.

    Peter Atkinson, the Dean of Worcester, said:

    ‘Ben Smith and his team are to be congratulated on this achievement. It is our aspiration that every school child in the diocese of Worcester (Worcestershire and the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley) will have the opportunity to visit and explore this amazing place at least once in their school days. We hope that this award will encourage even more schools to visit the Cathedral.’

    Earlier in 2016 the education team also won a Sandford Award for heritage education, a kitemark of excellence in the use of a historic building as a stimulus for learning. Elaine Skates, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said: ‘We believe that every child should be given the opportunity to experience life and lessons beyond the classroom walls as a regular part of growing up. It is clear that Worcester Cathedral is making great strides forward to make this happen, helping LOtC to grow and flourish.’

    For further details of the Cathedral’s exciting programme of educational activities that cater for everybody from primary school pupils to postgraduate students please contact Benjamin Smith on 01905 732 919.

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  • Reflections on Germinate

    21 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    Two years after members of rural churches first came together to look at church strategy and mission, the Germinate Learning Community has come to an end. Around 40 people from some of our most rural churches were part of the community and met together every six months to think about what God might be calling them to in their parishes and have time to reflect and plan.

    The Worcestershire West Rural Team was one of the groups of parishes involved. Team Vicar Anne Potter reflects: “The process came at the right time for our team and gave the opportunity for both clergy and laity to come together to focus on how we could best serve our churches. It helped us to work through how we could work and share resources as a team, while still remaining individual churches. It was a significant commitment, particularly for the lay people involved, but has really been worthwhile.”

    Churchwarden at Suckley Church, Anne Lewis said: “At the start of the Germinate process, our diverse parishes were a team in name only. But now we’re beginning to benefit from each other’s various skills and social opportunities. We also heard from churches beyond our immediate team and learned from their experiences and ideas.

    “As a church we have benefited by seeing new people taking responsibilities within church life. The expectation that the vicar is able to do everything is slowly changing, although it’s still true that too much is being done by too few and there’s still work to be done in cascading learning from the community to church members generally.”

    Although the Germinate Community has finished, the West Worcestershire Rural Team has plans to set up their own ‘Continuing Learning Community’ to help those who were involved to develop what they have learned and bring their ideas and plans to reality. Anne Potter said: “There are already some practical changes – the churchwardens across the team all meet together now and communications, mission and evangelism are all being promoted at a team level.”

    Marianne Cole attends both Martley & Wichenford Churches when she was invited to be part of the Germinate community, she didn’t even know what a PCC stood for! She said: “The Germinate sessions always fired me up. The speakers were inspirational and the whole process really strengthened my faith. It made me realise that I could spread God’s word in a way that’s individual to me.”

    Marianne brought a number of new ideas to the group which are already starting to be actioned. Pop up banners are being produced to go outside each of the churches to explain what that church does and celebrate their individuality as well as the fact they’re part of a wider team. Marianne is also pulling together a team to organise ‘Church Fest’ – a festival in Martley with a headline speaker, local bands and the opportunity for both the churches and community groups to show what they’re doing.

    Marianne continued: “I have a real passion for sharing God’s love in different ways and showing both young people and adults that church is fun! The Germinate process has enabled me to do this – whether through my mad ideas or co-leading Wichenford Café Church.”

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  • Poppies at Astley School

    17 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    Astley School have enjoyed learning more about the symbolism of the poppy this year in their Team Council groups. They then went on to experiment with a range of poppy art including making a fabulous poppy curtain which is on display in the hall.

    One of our pupils, Lexi Clarke aged 9 years, decided to make her own stunning felt poppies and sell them on behalf of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. She made an amazing £52 selling to school parents and children on the playground before and after school.

    Ali Reakes-Williams, Head of School, said:

    "This was such a creative and generous-hearted gesture that really touched our community and made Remembrance Day activities in school very special this year. We are delighted that our children both want to remember those who gave their lives for their country and make their own response to this sacrifice."

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  • Data protection changes

    14 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    You may be aware that there is new data protection law coming into force next May. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) give individuals more rights and organisations more responsibilities.

    These changes apply to all parish clergy and to all PCCs are they are all separate legal entities who will be processing personal data.

    We are very grateful for the work by the Church of England’s national experts, who have produced a very useful series of documents on the Parish Resources website: http://www.parishresources.org.uk/gdpr/. I have attached their two-page summary to this email which relates the GDPR to the practicalities of parish life.

    We are also planning to run an awareness course as soon as we can organise it early in the new year. Please look out for dates in the diocesan mailing.

    If you have any questions or concerns about the changes and what you need to do, please contact Alison Vincent in the Diocesan Office on 01905 732802. However, as the information has only just been made available to us, we’d be grateful if you’d give her until Monday 20 November to be fully up to speed!

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  • Help with Church Projects

    14 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    Crossing the Threshold is a step-by-step guide to developing your place of worship for wider community use and managing a successful building project.

    ‘Crossing the Threshold’ was originally written and published by Hereford Diocese. The latest version has been completely revised and updated by a partnership consisting of Hereford diocese, the Church Buildings Council and the Heritage Religious Buildings Alliance.

    ‘Crossing the Threshold’ is a practical toolkit and is highly recommended, from the very earliest stages of considering how you might alter your place of worship through to the celebrations at the end of the building work.

    Whether your PCC is thinking about a church project or currently in the middle of one, this toolkit is the ‘must have’ document to help, guide and inspire you to get the project right.

    You can download the whole document or just the particular sections you need at the time. It is hosted on the Diocese of Hereford website. Follow this link:

    https://www.hereford.anglican.org/Crossingthethresholdtoolkit/

    The partnership will continue to keep Crossing the Threshold revised and up to date, so whether you need it now or in the future, Crossing the Threshold will continue to be the ‘go to’ document to help PCCs.

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  • John Dentith's retirement

    13 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    At the end of the year, John Dentith will retire as Church Buildings Officer/DAC Secretary, a post he has held for over 16 years. When making changes to their church buildings, all parishes need to apply to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Church Buildings (DAC) for a permission known as a Faculty, and during his time in post, John has been there to advise, guide and support parishes.

    John said: “In July 2001, I had taken early retirement from working at a bank and a friend at church, John Bailey, who happened to be Vice Chair of the DAC, knew I was looking for something to do with my time. He suggested me to the Diocesan Secretary, Robert Higham, who asked whether I might help out as DAC Secretary for a couple of months while they advertised the role. In the end it was advertised in July 2002, when I applied and was fortunate enough to be given the job permanently after interview in October. In fact it was John Bailey who really mentored me through the first few years – although I’d been a churchwarden so had some experience of buildings, it was still a steep learning curve!”

    “On the whole I have loved the job. I’ve really enjoyed working with volunteers in parishes – people who are dedicated to looking after their churches. It’s been a privilege to help them along the way. I hope I’ve also helped to make the DAC a bit more friendly and approachable. There’s always been this rumour that the DAC says no a lot, and it’s been my mission to challenge that. In fact we recommend around 98% of the work that comes through to us. Members of the DAC will go out and do site visits, and by working on the application together with the parish there’s a very high likelihood that it will be successful.”

    “On the Diocesan Advisory Committee is an array of talented people, all of whom are there as volunteers giving up their time to help the Church. It’s a real buzz meeting with people who are sometimes national experts in their field! Taking on the role was one of the best things I ever did and definitely feel that God was in the decision somewhere. It’s also endorsed and enriched my faith. After a long career in the commercial banking industry, it was a huge difference working in a Christian culture.”

    “However, I’ve had a feeling for a while that now is the right time to go. A number of changes are coming in and it’ll be good to have a new person in post to steer them through. And I’m looking forward to having a rest after working for 49 years! Although I’ll be looking for something to occupy my time, I’ll also be looking after my wife and helping to child-mind my granddaughter, so I’m going to practise saying ‘no’ so I don’t end up taking on something else!”

    If you would like to contribute to a leaving gift for John, please send donations to Alison Vincent, Office Manager at the Diocesan Office (cheques payable to Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance).

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  • Diocesan Taize Pilgrimage 2018

    9 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    Bishop Graham is leading, in collaboration with the Bishop of Southampton (Diocese of Winchester), a pilgrimage to Taizé for 18-29 year-olds from in & around the Diocese of Worcester.

    The dates for the 2018 pilgrimage will be Saturday 14 July, arriving back in the UK on Monday 23 July 2018. We will be travelling by coach with pilgrims from Winchester.

    Food and accommodation in tents is simple, with young adults travelling from across Europe and beyond to spend a week on this French hillside. The cost will be approximately £200 per person (the final cost is dependent on the cost of the coach).

    If you are interested in joining this pilgrimage and have further questions then please contact Bishop Graham: bishop.dudley@cofe-worcester.org.uk

    Download poster

    Download flyer

    If you would like to book, please complete the registration form and medical form and return these to Bishop Graham’s office along with a £40 deposit (cheques made payable to Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance).

    If you have been influenced by Taizé in the past, and would like to sponsor a young adult to attend in 2018, then donations can be made via Bishop Graham’s office (cheques made payable to Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance). Thank you.

    What is Taizé?

    The Taizé Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations.

    The brothers of the community live solely by their work. They do not accept donations. In the same way, they do not accept personal inheritances for themselves; the community gives them to the very poor.

    Over the years, young adults have been coming to Taizé in ever greater numbers; they come from every continent to take part in weekly meetings.

    This video explains more: https://vimeo.com/10433263

    Life at Taizé from Taize on Vimeo.

    Why go to Taizé?

    From its beginning the community has been inspired by two aims: to live in communion with God through prayer and to be a leaven of peace and trust in the midst of the human family.

    A stay at Taizé is an opportunity to seek communion with God in prayer, singing, silence and reflection. It can be possible to rediscover an inner peace, a meaning to life and a new impetus.

    Experiencing a simple life shared with others reminds us that daily life is the place where Christ is waiting for us.

    Some young people are looking for ways of following Christ with their whole lives. A stay in Taizé can help discern this call.

    Meeting hundreds of young people from across Europe and further afield can enrich our understanding of others’ lives and how they read and hear the Gospel.

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  • Welcoming the Living Wage

    9 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    During Living Wage Week, the Diocesan Secretary, Robert Higham welcomes the continued work of the Living Wage Foundation which announced its annual increase in the Living Wage to £8.75 per hour.

    The Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance has supported the Living Wage since 2014 and is one of over 3,500 employers who voluntarily opt-in to pay the figure which is independently calculated to meet the cost of living. The new rate will be implemented within six months.

    Robert Higham, said: “Being a Living Wage employer is important to the Board of Finance, particularly with the impact of inflation on those with lower incomes. As well as ensuring that all our employees are paid at least the Living Wage, we also encourage all other church bodies to consider this for their own employees.”

    Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Year-on-year, we see organisations and businesses across the UK embracing the real Living Wage as they recognise that a fair day’s pay is not only the right thing so to but can improve the quality of staff’s work, reduce absenteeism and increase motivation and retention.”

    For more information about Living Wage Week go to http://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-week

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  • Bishop's Certificate 2017

    Bishop's Certificate 2017

    8 Nov 2017 • St Peter's Parish News

    Congratulations to Mark Adams on the Award of The Bishop's Certificate

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  • Letter from Archdeacon of Worcester

    8 Nov 2017 • Diocesan News

    It seems that Christmas has been coming for several months now. I saw a Christmas tree lurking in my local pub at the beginning of September – surely a record! And yet it doesn’t feel very ‘Christmassy’ as we look at world affairs, politics and what goes on in the lives of so many people.

    It doesn’t feel very Christmassy, of course, because we’ve made Christmas in our own image, rather than in the image and likeness of the very first Christmas. The very first Christmas was a tale of a birth – always a joyful event – in the midst of considerable human turmoil. It was not at all different from what so many of us are experiencing today; a real life born in the real circumstances of the day.

    We tend to dress things up, and maybe there’s no real harm in that. For example, Christmas trees came quite late to the party – introduced by Victorians. Many years later they appear in my local pub as the symbol of the season!

    We do this in so many ways. Let’s take Advent. No doubt inspired by those Blue Peter candle stands made out of metal coat-hangers (I’m showing my age, but do you remember them?), we tend to think of the wonderful season of Advent as a countdown to Christmas. But it has a far wider reach than that; it is a countdown to the time when God’s will is done here on earth as it is in heaven.

    We dress up holy seasons, and we dress up holy places. One of the great excitements of today’s church is the way we are opening up the buildings to much more community activity. We have holy space and community space, and they rub along well together, which should not surprise us as Christmas people believing in the God who came to be among us.

    Maybe we do it for ourselves too. I sometimes wonder whether we simply need to re-learn wonder and awe at God’s beautiful creation and re-creation. At the feast of Epiphany the Magi come without commentary or explanation simply to worship and bring their gifts.

    Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, these festivals give us a wonderful excuse to celebrate the God who shows us in Jesus just how much He loves us and reminds us just how valuable human beings really are. And if I was nudged to think about that a couple of months back in my local perhaps that was really no bad thing. Seasons’ greetings!

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