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Bishops’ Letter, 3 October 2022
Dear friends
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Hebrews 12.1-2
Christian discipleship, it is often wisely said, is a marathon, not a sprint.  As I write this, Bishop Sophie is quite literally running the London Marathon: in fact, as I write, she has completed 25 of the 26 miles, and will soon turn off the Embankment in London, and head towards Buckingham Palace and the finishing line on the Mall.  It has been a great effort on her part.  She has raised over £5000 for Mencap, and it is not too late for you to sponsor her if you would like to do so and if you are in a position to do so.  You will find her JustGiving page here.
          It seems extraordinary that we are now more than ¾ of the way into 2022.  The summer is well and truly behind us.  Leaves are beginning to fall from the trees, and daylight hours are shortening.  Before very long, we will enter the season of All Saints’ and Remembrance, and our liturgies will invite us to remember the great cloud of witnesses who, like the crowds on the streets of London today, gather to cheer on those who are running their race.  There are some runners, in the London Marathon, it is true, who run in novelty costume – I saw Big Ben, and a giant duck in the TV footage today.  But every runner knows perfectly well that unnecessary weight is a serious impediment in a long distance race.  Much better to lay aside every weight – and in a spiritual race, in particular, the sin which clings closely, impeding our freedom of movement. 
          And if the London Marathon tracker app is to be believed, Bishop Sophie is right now on Birdcage Walk, just south of St James’ Park.  She will very soon reach Buckingham Palace and will turn onto the Mall – and at that point the finishing line will be in sight.  She will tell us… but I have to assume that her spirits will be uplifted by that sight.  In the same way, you and I, in our following of Jesus, are exhorted to keep our eyes on him, who is our Finishing Line, as well as our Starting Gun, in the race we are called to run.
Diocesan Development Day, Saturday 1 October
          About 300 of us gathered on site at St Thomas’, Crookes, with another 50+ joining us online, for an excellent DDD on Saturday.  The overall theme of Prayer was determined by the ‘Renewed’ strand of our strategy.  We were very blessed in our keynote speaker, Pete Grieg, who was generous enough also to lead two workshops – speaking very personally and openly three times in all.  His contributions were rich and powerful and if you were not able to be with us on the day, you might like to catch up on his talks when they are posted later this week to our website here
          In addition, there were a variety of other workshops, ably led and much appreciated.  I contributed an exposition of Psalm 139, which you can also find at the link above; and a highlight of the day was the licensing of the Revd Toby Hole as our new Director of Mission and Ministry.
          Towards the end of the day, our Lights for Christ Enabler, Hannah Sandoval, introduced us to ‘Wear your Faith Fortnight’ – an evangelistic opportunity which will take place between 24 October and 7 November. You can find more details here.
Twinned Deanery Gatherings
          Over the coming weeks and months, there will be an opportunity for followers of Jesus across the Diocese to meet with members of the Bishop’s Senior Staff Team.  The schedule is as follows:
          Saturday, 8 Oct, 10am, Adwick/Snaith & Hatfield Deaneries
          Monday, 10 Oct, 7pm, Doncaster and West Doncaster Deaneries
          Saturday, 15 Oct, 10am, Wath and Tankersley Deaneries
          Wednesday, 9 Nov, 7pm, Attercliffe and Eccleshall Deaneries
          Tuesday, 22 Nov, 7pm, Ecclesfield and Hallam Deaneries
Saturday, 14 Jan, 10am, Laughton and Rotherham Deaneries
These events are open to all, not only to those who exercise particular roles or ministries in church.  As well as time for prayer and bible study together, there will be an opportunity for those in our parishes to report to the Senior Staff the opportunities and challenges which the next 3-5 years might bring.  Please do come, and contribute if you are able. 
Safeguarding Sunday
          The Church of England has designated Sunday 20th November, the Feast of Christ the King, as Safeguarding Sunday.  We would like warmly to encourage you to make use of this opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made in recent years in making our churches safe for all, and to face up to the journey which still lies ahead of us. 
          We are grateful to the Revd Dr Bill Goodman, Vice-Principal of St Peter’s College, for preparing some resources which you can find here.
The Strategic Leadership Development Programme, Cohort 5
          Some of you will be aware of a wonderful initiative to invest in the leadership potential of our clergy.  The 3-year programme first ran in 2014, and nominations are now invited for Cohort 5, to begin about this time next year. 
          In all, around 35 individuals will make up the cohort – and there are 42 Dioceses in the Church of England which are invited to make nominations.  So it is unlikely that more than 1 participant will come from the Diocese of Sheffield.  There are two parts to the nominations process: first there is a local element, in which the Diocesan Bishop writes a proposal on behalf of a priest; but then follows a national selection and discernment process.  In other words, it is important to note that a Diocesan nomination is not an automatic ‘entry ticket’ to the programme. 
          Bishop Sophie and I are keen to make this process as transparent and accessible as possible, and we are therefore keen to hear your views about possible participants.  You will find further information here.  If you wish to nominate someone else, or if you wish to be considered as a potential participant yourself, then please notify Bishop Pete’s PA, Wendy, by email: by the end of October.
Cost of Living separate Ad Clerum
          Finally, please note that next week we will be issuing a separate Ad Clerum dedicated to the cost of living crisis.  This will include information about some grant aid which will be available to both vicarage occupants and PCCs for their church buildings, and suggestions about how to make the most of this crisis as a mission opportunity, by putting a warm gathering space at the service of a local neighbourhood.  Of course, it hardly needs to be said that any help will not amount to a magic wand: increasing costs are every bit as challenging for the Diocesan Board of Finance as they are for PCCs and households.  But please watch this space.

With every blessing
The Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox
Bishop of Sheffield
The Rt Revd Sophie Jelley
Bishop of Doncaster
Copyright © 2022 Diocese of Sheffield, All rights reserved.

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