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9 January 2023
Dear Friends,
We hope that the wonder and joy of this Christmas season has been a blessing to you.
This is the first of our monthly bishops’ letters of 2023. We hope you find it both encouraging and informative but if you no longer wish to receive this mailing, please do let our comms team know at or simply unsubscribe at the bottom of this mailing. If there are other key people in your situation that you wish to pass this letter on to, please do feel free and likewise their contact details can be added to the list using the same e mail address.
When they had heard the king, they set out, and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen in the east, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
(Matthew 2: 9-12)
The Feast of Epiphany (6th Jan) will have been celebrated by many churches on Friday and yesterday with the glorious gospel account of the visit of the magi to the holy family. We recall this account annually as little children across the world dressed in shiny crowns with wrapped gift boxes, come and pay homage to the infant king. But the mention of three kings is not the overarching theme here. By calling on the magi, gentile Persian astrologers, Herod was pursuing his own pernicious plan, but instead, God reveals his glory. Matthew’s first readers may have found these unlikely visitors hard to reconcile with the worship they bring, and yet they are among the first to recognise the saviour and to respond in the appropriate way, with awe, submission and wonder at God’s gift.
There is no doubt that we are living in the midst of times where the pernicious plans of others wreak havoc in our world. We also know ourselves capable of much that is not honouring to God in our daily lives. The truth is that God is still in the business of revealing his glory, even in the most unlikely places and through the most unexpected people. The invitation in this epiphany gospel is to follow in the steps of those wise men, to seek after the one who reveals his glory in the world, to bring our worship and honour, praise and delight.
In all this we trust we will find ourselves being transformed by the one who reveals such glory even in the midst of sin and brokenness. We pray too that others will also be drawn to him alongside us. So, as we kneel and pay homage, as we take our place as Lights for Christ within a simpler, bolder, humbler church, may we too be overwhelmed with joy and offer all that we are and have afresh, to Jesus our Emmanuel, today, and for all our days to come.
Financial support for churches and their energy bills
As communicated in previous mailings, we have been allocated £400,000 from the national church to support churches with increased energy costs. The grant will be distributed in two parts. The first is as a flat rate to every church in the Diocese of £1,150 per church. We will be sending an email about this to every Treasurer, Secretary, Churchwarden and Incumbent in the next week to ask people to confirm contact and bank details, with a view to paying it quickly. We will then invite further applications for the money in the rest of the pot – with the aim/hope that it will go to those most in need. A small team is finalising the criteria for that. This application round will likely open at the end of Jan with an end of Feb deadline. We realise that this is a worrying time for all, please remember our Church Buildings Officers ( and Generosity and Giving Officers are available to provide advice (

Resourcing Mission and Ministry
Since his appointment as Director of Mission and Ministry in September, Toby Hole has been working with members of St Peter’s College and the Parish Support Team to bring both together in one team. Now known as Resourcing Mission and Ministry (RMM), this team will continue to support and enable congregations to grow and sustain their local mission through Mission Action Planning, Lights for Christ, New Congregations, the Centenary Project and many of the other initiatives that are already bearing much fruit in the diocese. RMM will also be taking the lead on encouraging and equipping lay ministries, continuing the path mapped out by the Lay Ministry Review that reported to Diocesan Synod in July 2022. Bringing together support for local mission and lay ministry will allow a greater degree of joined up strategy and in particular ensure that we deliver appropriate and timely training to all those who feel God’s nudge to serve him where they are.
Warden of Readers
Toby Hole took on the role of interim warden of readers in 2021 when Imogen Clout stepped down after many years in the role. As Director of Mission and Ministry Toby continues to have an oversight role over lay ministers but he will no longer be designated warden. As we continue to consider the best ways of supporting readers and other lay ministers, the assistant wardens of readers (Peter Rainford, Beryl Adamson and Giles Morrison) have agreed to take on many of the warden’s roles between them. Toby will remain the diocesan point of contact for reader concerns and questions but responses and follow up will most likely come from Peter, Beryl and Giles.
Having considered the present system of annual and five yearly reviews, and with full support of both bishops, the wardens have decided to streamline the process so that every reader undertakes a full review every three years. It is hoped that this will take some of the administrative burdens from readers, some of whom were conducting two reviews in a single year. We are grateful for the ministry of our Readers, please do pray for them in all they do to support mission and ministry across the Diocese.
Assistant Diocesan Director of Vocations (ADDV)
We are delighted to confirm that the Revd Jane Truman has been appointed as half time ADDV succeeding Kathryn Herrod who retired in October. Jane has already  worked with the Diocese in developing learning and equipping for Focal Ministry, and in facilitating the recent Lay Ministry Review. She is a great addition to the Vocations team, led by Dan Christian and working closely with colleagues in the RMM team. Jane will be licensed to this new role in the near future. You can read the full announcement on our website here.
Net Zero Open Meeting: Churches and Clergy Housing
Church leaders are warmly invited to attend this vital gathering on 2nd February at 9.30am (St Peter’s, Warmsworth) as we share key information about progress towards our Diocesan goal of Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2030, in the wider context of the Church of England. You will go away with practical advice on how your church can reduce its carbon footprint. The event is free, but delegates are asked to book in advance. Space is limited but we would be delighted to achieve representation from at least one person from each of the 58 Mission Areas in the Diocese. If there are remaining spaces, booking will be opened more widely from Thursday 12th January. We look forward to welcoming you. For more information, please contact Sally Hunter, Environmental Project Support on
Living in Love and Faith
We both attended the College of Bishops second three-day meeting (12-14 December) and played a full part in the process of discerning a way forward for the Church of England on questions of identity, sexuality and marriage. We are extremely grateful to all who prayed for this meeting, we were keenly aware of this throughout our time away. The discussions will be continued at a third meeting in mid-January at which it is anticipated that we will agree an ‘offering’ to the Church, giving a clear sense of direction.  The College also discussed commitments that bishops will take and develop further in line with the direction of travel to be agreed by Synod in February 2023. It is anticipated that these commitments would be included in the bishops’ offering to Synod and the wider Church. Please do continue to pray for us and the whole church at this time. Though we were asked to respect confidentiality through the Christmas season, following the third meeting we intend to write a letter to the Diocese entirely dedicated to the issues of identity, sexuality and marriage in relation to our common life.
As ever this comes with our gratitude and hope for 2023 for you and all those you serve,
With every blessing,
The Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox
Bishop of Sheffield
The Rt Revd Sophie Jelley
Bishop of Doncaster
Copyright © 2023 Diocese of Sheffield, All rights reserved.

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