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Bishops’ Letter, Monday 23 May
As you know this week, we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. It will also be the beginning of the period of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ when we pray for those we know, to come to know the love of Christ for themselves. This period will finish with Pentecost as we remember and rejoice in the gift of God’s Holy Spirit poured out upon his church. This will also be the finale of the Platinum Jubilee as we give thanks for and celebrate the remarkable service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; a life above all, of service to Christ. So much to celebrate, so much to rejoice in. Yet our daily reality may well feel far from this. With the cost of living causing such anxiety and the many other pressures among those whom we serve and from which we ourselves are not immune, it can be easy to lose the ability to lift our eyes to the coming King Jesus.
The readings for Ascension Day explore the elevation of the Lord Jesus. From Isaiah chapter 52 ‘See my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high.’ From Hebrews chapter 7 ‘For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.’
The collect for Ascension Day reminds us ‘So we, in heart and mind may also ascend and with him continually dwell.’ So friends, may we all be enabled to lift our eyes to the coming king this week as we seek to shine as Lights for Christ. When troubles come or circumstances overwhelm us, may we be those who are able to pause and pray; ‘Lord lift my eyes so that I may see you clearly. May I know your thoughts and ways, so much higher than mine, today, and all my days to come.’ Amen.
Triennium funding announcement
It was an absolute privilege for us to welcome Archbishop Justin (Canterbury) and Archbishop Stephen (York) to the Diocese on 11th May, as they shared the important news of the funding priorities for the next triennium within the Church of England. St John the Evangelist, Balby was chosen to represent the outstanding work going on across the nation by the Church of England through multi banks and food banks and other projects serving the local community and bringing the hope and love of Christ to those in their care. We were immensely proud of the team at St Johns, both staff and volunteers, church officers and supporters, and we must credit the recently retired incumbent Rev Alun Price, for his vision, together with his wife Jane, and their immense hard work and love for this community over many years.

The announcement outlined the Church Commissioners’ plan to distribute £1.2 billion between 2023 and 2025, up 30% from £930 million in the current three-year period, and plan to maintain this level of funding in the subsequent six years. In total, this would mean the Church Commissioners plan to distribute £3.6 billion to frontline work of the Church of England between 2023 and 2031, making the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council among the largest grant givers in the country. The Church Commissioners’ distributions will account for approximately 20% of Church funding, whilst the biggest contribution still comes from the faithful and generous giving of churchgoers across the country. We note with gratitude, the generosity and faithfulness you demonstrate across the Diocese to enable ministry here.
The Commissioners’ distributions will help fund Dioceses like ours, in our plans to serve the nation by reaching more young and disadvantaged people, addressing issues of racial justice, and radically cutting the Church’s carbon footprint. The significant increase will be a tremendous boost to our diocesan vision of a revitalised diocese. It will enable a step change in furthering our strategy to mobilise the whole people of God for the whole mission of God. There will of course be much more to say on this but for now we are glad to share the encouragement this is to us and the good news we believe it will be for the Diocese over the coming decade.
Doncaster receives City Status
On Friday it was announced that following a very competitive bidding process, Doncaster has been selected as one of the eight towns to be awarded city status as part of this year's Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The town, which has a population of about 311,000 living in its boroughs, had tried and failed three times before to attain city status. While formal Letters Patent conferring city status will be issued later this year, Mayor Ros Jones said she believed Doncaster could start calling itself a city immediately. "If you look at the resilience of our residents and our businesses, we went through the floods of 2019, then we had the Hatfield Moors fires, then we all went through Covid. Our residents and businesses stepped up to the mark and showed true Yorkshire grit." Ms Jones said she hoped the status change would help to boost Doncaster's economic regeneration, adding: "We've always believed we act like a city, and now we're being given this huge honour."
As Bishop of Doncaster, this is such wonderful news. I have seen first-hand, the dedication and commitment of local people to their communities. Our churches here are doing remarkable work and we are thrilled at the opportunities this will bring to the region. Please join us both in prayer for the city of Doncaster as it steps into the future.
Open Day Weds 25th May
We would ask your particular prayers on Wednesday for the first of our planned Open Days in the Diocese of Sheffield. This is a new venture for us and for the Church of England! We decided that in view of the recent and planned retirements and the opportunities we have to offer, we would provide a day for those who would welcome the chance to come and see. Together we will explore the vision of the Diocese and enable those discerning to find out more about what the Diocese of Sheffield is like and whether God is calling them to serve among us. We are delighted to say that we have over 20 priests booked into the day, kindly hosted by Rev Phil Barringer at Catcliffe. Others will join at various points during the day to help build a picture of our life here. If you know of folks who would like to come it is not too late to add them in (preferably today) by emailing Pauline Cope on, and we also have the next date planned for Sept 27th. Above all, we would greatly value your prayers for this important day, that we may hear from God and together, be guided by him.
Candle of Justice 2022
Christians and churches are invited to Join Churches Together in England on 25 May 2022 for #CandleOfJustice to light a candle, pray for racial justice and commit to taking action. Together we will commemorate the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder and renew the nation’s commitment to tackling racism.
The #CandleOfJustice will be a moment to light a candle, pray for racial justice and commit to taking personal and institutional action to tackle racial injustice in our society and our churches. We are encouraging Christians and churches up and down the country to get involved, lighting their candle and praying the Candle Of Justice prayer at noon on Wednesday 25 May.
“We invite the nation to share their stories of the work they have done in challenging racial injustice and highlighting the systems they have set up to tackle racism within their churches and within broader society. We also ask that they recommit to continuing their work in tackling racism and enabling a fair, equal and equitable society for all. We recognise that there is still a lot more work to do,” says CTE’s Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations, Shermara Fletcher.
Reflecting on this anniversary CTE President and Moderator of the Free Churches Group Rev Helen Cameron says “We all remember the moment we heard about the death of George Floyd murdered by a white policeman standing on his neck. Since then, sadly we have all witnessed or heard testimony of countless other acts of racist hatred and injustice. It is not enough for good people to be horrified but then do nothing to work for change. We must dismantle white privilege, name racism when we encounter it, and commit ourselves to change. This will be costly but God calls us to seek justice and unearth hope for all.”
As your bishops we are wholehearted in our commitment to work for the eradication of the evil of racism within our Diocese of Sheffield and more widely across the nation; we are confident that you will want to join us in marking this important moment. For more information click here.
Prayer for Ukraine
Many of you will be aware that Franklin Graham, son of Billy, will soon be touring the UK.  You We continue to pray and do all we can to support those affected by and fleeing from the war in Ukraine. You will be aware of just what a complex situation this is and to that end, you may be interested to read this ‘Declaration of Orthodox Theologians on the Russian World’ teaching statement. 
In our Diocese, an increasing number of church-related properties are now being offered as accommodation for refugees from Ukraine.  If you would like to know more about the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, please contact
You may be aware that Bishop Pete and Cathy now have a family from Ukraine living with them.  They would be grateful for your prayers in these early days as they seek to provide a hospitable home. 
The Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox
Bishop of Sheffield
The Rt Revd Sophie Jelley
Bishop of Doncaster
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