• New Readers licensed

    18 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    Two people from parishes in the Diocese were admitted to the office of Reader on Saturday in Worcester Cathedral. The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, conducted the service, licensing the individuals to minister in the parishes they have been called to serve.

    Readers are trained and licensed lay ministers in the Church of England authorised in particular to exercise a ministry of preaching and teaching. They undergo a two year training course before being admitted to the role, after which they carry out a wide range of tasks within their parishes and beyond, especially helping others to reflect on their faith and how it relates to their daily lives.

    Those admitted and licensed were:

    Sally-Anne Burdett, licensed to the Bromsgrove Team MinistryMelissa Beynon, licensed to the United Parish of Stoke Prior, Wychbold and Upton Warren together with the Bowbrook Group

    Bishop John said: “Lay Ministers play a very important role in our churches, sharing their faith with others and serving them in God's name. I was delighted to be able to license Sally-Anne and Melissa to this very important role.”

    The service was also an opportunity to say thank you to Canon Sheila Banyard, Rural Dean of Droitwich, who has had a pastoral role looking after the Lay Ministers in our Diocese for many years as ‘Warden of Readers’. Sheila was the preacher at the service. She said: “God calls each of us, just as we are. As Christians, we have a responsibility to tell people God’s story and give them the space to work out what it means to them. We should listen constantly for God’s voice reminding us that we’re all loved by Him and help others to do the same, as well as giving thanks for those who have been God’s storytellers for us.”

    The Revd Sue Oliver, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Pensnett, Dudley, has taken over from Sheila as Warden of Readers.

    See photos from the service

    Quotes from the Candidates:

    Sally-Anne Burdett

    It is such a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to train as a Licensed Lay Minister in the Diocese of Worcester. The two years of training at Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham has been enormously helpful in preparing and equipping me for the ministry that now lies ahead.

    This journey has been encouraged and supported by so many different people from family, friends, tutors, fellow students, those from my training placement and my home parish. They have all helped to shape and enhance the way forward into Licensed Lay Ministry and I am extremely grateful to them all.

    I am now looking forward to serving the communities within my own parish and to supporting my clergy colleagues; as well as growing and developing in ministry to walk alongside others in faith, hope, and love.

    Melissa Beynon

    Since around five years ago I knew that I needed to do ‘something’ in terms of ministry in the church. This felt like an inner voice, or a ’prodding’ to step out of my comfort zone and to help others to see and experience God in everyday life. I tried to ignore it, but the inner voice and call grew!

    When exploring ministry, the phrase ‘helping people connect faith and life’ was in some of the literature I saw about Readers. This leapt out at me, as something that I loved to do already informally, and that I wanted to be trained and given authority to do more effectively.

    In Reader ministry there is a lot of flexibility, such as leading services, teaching, preaching, small groups, community projects, chaplaincy work, visiting, or taking communion to those at home. I find this very exciting, as the possibilities are endless.

    The training has been very demanding and challenging, but I have loved going to Queen’s Theological College. I’ve learned how to approach scripture and theology in a much deeper way. My thinking has been expanded by the tutors and the other students. In our classes there were students from very different churches and backgrounds, all adding to the richness of our discussions. The weekly worship at Queen’s has been amazing too, I will never forget all the wonderful people I’ve met and will miss going there. But as we are licensed we’re beginning another adventure.

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  • The 1st Calling Young Disciples Learning Community starts

    18 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    The first Calling Young Disciples Learning Community has been established. The community will consist of representatives from the four different church groups with whom the Mission Enablers are working and will meet together every six months over two and a half years.

    The Learning Community is being run by CPAS and aims to help the Calling Young Disciples Mission Enablers and their host parishes to be as effective as possible growing their engagement with children, young people and their families. The two-day meeting was led by CPAS Leadership Specialist, Pam Macnaughton, who said:

    “We’ve recognised that it’s hard for one person to affect change in a parish in a short period of time. The purpose of the learning community is to gather a group together to discuss and plan what could be done. By working as a team, there’s a much greater likelihood of change.”

    The learning community groups include the Mission Enablers as well as lay leaders, influential lay members and clergy from each of the churches involved. There will be six meetings of the group and even when the Mission Enabler has moved onto another parish, they will still come back to support the existing communities. Each meeting will look at a different topic. The first was ‘Our Community and Mission’ with the groups looking at the story of the churches’ engagement with children and young people so far. Other sessions will look at disciples, leaders, evangelism and the future. At the end of a meeting, each parish group will put together an action plan for the next six months, which will be revisited next time.

    “This is a pilot learning community for those working with children and young people,” continued Pam. “However, our experience has shown that learning communities are very effective at enabling change and new thinking in a range of different spheres and we are confident that this Calling Young Disciples Community will be transformative for the parishes and their work with children and young people.”

    Mission Enabler Adam Legge is currently working with Kidderminster East. He said: “The learning community will help to give a context in which the parish can start to build change. I hope it will help to alter the mind sets of key people in churches who can then help drive through different ways of engaging with children and young people and see them as a way to bring life and vitality to our churches.”

    Vicar of St Peter, Lapal, Hazel Charlton, is a member of the group from the Halas Team. She said: “From the first evening, the learning community was really informative and fun. The group gelled immediately and it was fascinating when we looked at how the world had changed during our different lifetimes! It’s exciting that so many different church groups can meet together – we’ve brought representatives from all our churches and it will definitely enable us to build connections and bond as a team which will help our future work.”

    Cathy Repton came to the learning community as a Sunday School leader working at St. John’s Church in Bromsgrove. She said: “I really enjoyed the first sessions. Everyone was very friendly and it was a good format, with a mixture of activities rather than just sitting around tables talking. One of the main things I took away from the weekend was the importance of asking our local community about what it wants and needs and creating fresh expressions of church around that, rather than first looking at our capabilities. I’m going back to badger the church leaders to do just that!”

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  • New Ministerial Experience Scheme begins

    14 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    Three people have moved into a vicarage in the Diocese for a year to gain a real understand of what being a Church of England vicar might involve. Jonathan Fleury, Melissa Drinkwater and Peter Owen are all exploring a calling to ministry and are living together as an ‘intentional community’ for a year, working in different parishes in Dudley to develop their vocation further.

    Melissa Drinkwater is originally from West Sussex, but has recently graduated from Regent’s Theological College in Malvern. She will be working alongside the Revd David Hoskin in Brierley Hill. She said: “I’m really looking to clarifying my calling to see whether becoming an Anglican Vicar is where God wants me to be. We’re only at the start of the year, but I’ve already experienced more than I’d ever dreamed of. It’s been a challenging couple of weeks, but the people are lovely – I hope I can be another pair of hands to help out in the parish as well as provide prayerful encouragement.”

    Jonathan Fleury was attending St Peter’s Church in Inkberrow before joining the Ministry Experience Scheme and has been placed with the Revd Mike Rutter in Netherton. He said: “I became a Christian just before I left school and started thinking about my calling while at University. I’ve been in the discernment process a little over three years now and this will be a great opportunity to gain practical experience and really test my vocation. I also hope that I can help in the parish by bringing a newcomer's perspective on some of the things they've been doing.”

    Originally from Hertfordshire, Peter Owen has also recently graduated from Regent’s College and is working with the Revd Tom Atfield as part of the Dudley Team during the Scheme. He said: “I felt God’s call into the Anglican Church during my second year in Malvern and started the discernment process with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands in my third year. I’m looking forward to working with churches with different expressions of worship to those I am used to and learning from them and from the Revd Tom Atfield during the next 10 months.”

    Melissa, Jonathan and Peter all pray together daily as part of the scheme and are undertaking some theological and ministerial study at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham as well as through the Diocesan Growing Leaders course. They spend four days a week in their parishes, where they shadow the clergy and have an opportunity to gain a range of experiences.

    “Living together is going quite well so far,” continued Melissa. “We come from very different backgrounds, so praying together each day really helps. We’ve all got very different schedules and have already been scaling the heights of a church tower and attending school assemblies and lunch clubs.”

    The group are also involving themselves in the local community and are in the process of setting up a small home group with couples of a similar age who recently completed the Alpha course.

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  • Celebrating ALM Ministry

    12 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    A special service to celebrate lay ministry was held at Worcester Cathedral on Sunday. The service was the climax for over 40 people who have completed a year-long course to be Authorised Lay Ministers (ALMs) and who will work as part of the ministry teams in parishes, supporting their Vicars and Licensed Lay Ministers.

    Authorised Lay Ministers work as volunteers in their parishes as pastoral workers, community workers, in helping to lead acts of worship, in sharing their faith with others, as children’s and youth workers or as parish administrators. Each person completes a number of training sessions in their specialist area over the course of a year and there is some training for all ALMs.

    Bishop John said: “The emergence of this ministry is one of the most exciting things that has happened during my nearly ten years as Bishop of Worcester. As a result of the authorisation of over 300 ALMs over several years, there are now more people offering authorised ministry in the Diocese than ever before. That is a cause for great celebration.”

    The Revd Doug Chaplin, Mission Development Officer in the Diocese was the preacher at the service. He encouraged all those present to think of themselves as ‘God’s gift’. He said: “The gifts God gives are for everyone who He calls into his Church. We should all help to serve and build up the ministry of others, sharing our faith and helping ourselves and others to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus.”

    The ALMs come from a range of parishes across Worcestershire and Dudley. They have been trained to work collaboratively in ministry teams and are authorised in their own parishes.

    See photos from the service.

    Quotes from a few of the Candidates:

    Michael Palfreyman is from Ipsley Parish and completed the course to become a worship leader. He said: “It was a very bible-based, spiritual course where we had the freedom to express our own opinions. I was very impressed and it has helped me to understand how church services are conducted.”

    Jean Rogers was part of the group from the Halas Team in Halesowen who completed the course to become pastoral workers. She said: “It was an excellent course with very good tuition and gave us a real insight into the pastoral care of those in our parishes. I am particularly interested in helping families through bereavement and also being involved in baptisms.”

    Jan Martin is from St. Michael’s Church in Norton, Stourbridge. She said: “It was a very helpful course. I help support the families’ worker in our parish and the ALM course has definitely given me more ideas and encouragement to progress work with children and young people in different areas.”

    Claire Morgan from Kempsey Church completed the course to become and Authorised Lay Minister in Evangelism. She said: “My vicar suggested that the course would be beneficial and it’s been brilliant, particularly the small group sessions. Our course leader was inspirational and it’s definitely empowered me to go out and make contact with those moving into new housing near us, share God’s love and hopefully bring more people to faith.”

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  • Bishops take the oars in sponsored row

    8 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    The Bishop of Dudley, the Rt Revd Graham Usher and the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Worcester will be joining the Revd Ian Spencer in a sponsored row from Cropthorne to Tewkesbury on 19 September. The 20 mile trip will raise money towards the refurbishment of the Chapel at retreat house, Holland House in Cropthorne, where Ian is the Warden.

    The Bishops and Ian will be rowing in ‘Maria’, a wooden boat which belongs to the retreat house. The boat was kindly bought by Dr Deborah Jones a couple of years ago and the woodwork has recently been completely refurbished by Bishop Robert. At some point on the journey, they will also be joined by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge. The full journey will be completed by Bishop Robert and Ian and will take around 10 hours.

    Ian Spencer said:

    “We have been gradually improving our beautiful chapel and now want to install permanent disabled access. As well as the bishops in the Diocese of Worcester, we’ve also received strong support from the Bishop of Gloucester for our row and we’re hoping that people across both dioceses will get behind us with sponsorship money or by coming to see us on the day!”

    Bishops Graham, Robert and Ian will take turns rowing the boat. They will cast off from Cropthorne at 8.30am on Tuesday 19 September and hope to make steady progress down the river, navigating four locks before reaching the slipway in Tolsey Road, Tewkesbury at around 6.30pm.

    To be part of the fun, please email ian.spencer@hollandhouse.org to see how you might help. Donations can be made online at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/6046#/DonationDetails or by sending a cheque payable to "Holland House", to: "Maria", Holland House, Main Street, Cropthorne, WR10 3NB.

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  • ​St Luke’s Day

    6 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    We give thanks for the quality of healthcare we enjoy in this country, compared to many places in the world. We give thanks for all those who have dedicated themselves to serving the health and well-being of others, not only as front-line medical and care staff, but also those who provide administrative and support services in our hospitals and medical practices.

    We pray for all those who are stressed and burdened by the ever-growing demand on the resources of the health service, and the responsibilities they carry on behalf of society. We pray also for those who face hard new decisions of life and death which are made possible only be advances in technology.

    We give thanks also for the many dedicated people from other countries who come and serve in the NHS, and pray that our needs may not simply drain resources from less wealthy and privileged nations.

    We pray for a church which bears witness to a vision of health and wholeness for all in society.

    On Saturday 4 November, the Festival of Healing will take place in the Cathedral, which is a further opportunity to pray for specific needs for healing.

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  • ​Prisons’ Week, 8 – 14 October

    6 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    Both are served by an interfaith team of chaplains and volunteers and work with prisoners and their families, as well as staff. As well as regular services held in the chapel there are bible studies, meditation and discussion groups, along with the core work of pastoral care. Chaplains also contribute to the Restorative Justice programme, aimed at rehabilitative transformation. At HMP Hewell, work with families by the children and families’ team includes parenting courses and family-time visits, and is supported by volunteers from local churches.

    One annual focus for this ministry is Prisons’ Sunday on 8 October. A special service will be held in Worcester Cathedral at 10.30am and will include contributions from chaplains and volunteers, prayers written by prisoners and an accompanying exhibition on the work of the chaplaincy team. All are welcome.

    A prayer for Prisons’ Week:

    Lord, you offer freedom to all people.

    We pray for those in prison.

    Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist.

    Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends,

    prison staff and all who care.

    Heal those who have been wounded by the activities

    of others, especially the victims of crime.

    Help us to forgive one another.

    To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ

    in His strength and in His Spirit, now and every day. Amen.

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  • Letter from The Archdeacon of Dudley

    6 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    Have you ever had a moment when something from the Bible you know to be true, takes on a much deeper meaning, or impacts you at a deeper level?

    This happened to me when I was privileged to attend a service in St Stephen’s, Redditch celebrating the lives of transplant recipients, organ donors and their families. ‘Gifts Beyond Price’ was the brainchild of Elaine Whitfield, a relatively new member of the church, and she planned the most beautiful and moving event, attended, to her surprise, by people from all over the country. Elaine’s father, Arthur, died in 2016. For the last twenty five years of his life, his blood was pumped around his body by a donor heart – he had benefitted from a transplant which had saved his life, and given him many more years than anticipated. It was this that Elaine wanted to express her thankfulness for, both to donor families, and to God.

    In a profound symbolic act as part of the service, Natasha, recipient sixteen years ago of a donated heart and lungs when in her early twenties and close to death, lit eight candles, representing the lives one donor can save. Wendy, the mother of Jack, who died in a tragic accident last year, and whose organs were donated, then extinguished a large central candle, amidst hugs and tears, after speaking movingly to each other as representatives of each group, giving thanks for the lives involved. The Lead Retrieval Surgeon and Transplant Specialist from the QE hospital articulated some of the challenging dilemmas involved for his team, and both the joys, sorrows and weighty responsibility he experiences in making time sensitive decisions about life and death amidst tragedy. As a Muslim, he spoke powerfully about our shared humanity. The Reverend Paul Lawlor picked this up in his address too. Never have Jesus’ words in John 15 had such resonance: “There is no greater love than this, that someone should lay down their life for their friends.”

    Jesus, in a sense, donated his life, that we might live life in all its fullness forever. Talking with many after the service who had received the gift of new life through the gift of a friend, or the death of a stranger, the love of God for each person he has made impacted me afresh. God so loved the world, that he gave his Son ….

    I resolved that day to live my life more fully, more gratefully, more aware of what it cost. I also spoke to my family making clear that should they ever be put in that awful place of decision, my bodily organs should, if possible, be used to bring life to others, as my life with God will continue into eternity, because Jesus laid down his life and lives in me.

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  • Life Explored Course at St. Peter's

    Life Explored Course at St. Peter's

    2 Sep 2017 • St Peter's Parish News

    The next Life Explored course will be over five Monday evenings (Mondays 2, 9, 16, and 30th October and 6, 13, 20 November 7.15pm to 9.45pm) and features a combination of short films - shot around the world and discussions based around the films and selected bible passages.

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  • ALM Celebration and News

    1 Sep 2017 • Diocesan News

    Sunday 10 September sees Bishop John celebrate the gifts of more than forty new Authorised Lay Ministers with them, their families and friends in Worcester Cathedral. All are welcome to this service at 6.30pm, when the Bishop will present the new ALMs with their certificates to say they’ve completed their training.

    Each ALM will then be authorised in their parish over the following weeks by their own vicar. Local clergy can find the resource material for this parish authorisation on the diocesan website.

    This September also sees the beginning of the discernment and selection process for the next round of ALM training which will start in Autumn 2018. There are going to be two introductory evenings for anyone interested in exploring Authorised Lay Ministry:

    Tuesday 10 October, 7.30pm – The Great Hall of the Old PalaceWednesday 18 October, 7.30pm – St John’s Church Hall, Bromsgrove

    Email training@cofe-worcester.org.uk to book a place or make enquiries.

    There is a general introduction to ALM ministry on the diocesan website here, and more detailed guidance for clergy, PCCs and enquirers on this page.

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