‘Let the sea roar and all that fills it,
the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness
and the peoples with equity.
This Psalm from Morning Prayer today, provides rich images of the natural world honouring the Lord; the One who creates and sustains. The picture is of both the earth and its inhabitants declaring the praises of the Lord. We are truly blessed to serve in a Diocese where we are never far from a reservoir, river or wood. South Yorkshire and the East Riding and the Peak District are among the richest manifestations of God’s glory there are. But rising temperatures, discord among the nations and general dis-ease among so many of the world’s population show that we live far from this reality. This psalm serves as a reminder that God is the source of all righteousness and his judgment is always just and fair.
As summer comes, we trust that there will be times for each of us to recalibrate, whether at home or away, to be refreshed by the God of righteousness, that he may continue to equip us to bring glory to his name as part of his beautiful creation. In our concerted effort to reduce our own and corporate carbon emissions, in our determination to work for justice and peace and to join together as his people impacting his world for good, you may find the prayer crafted to conclude this psalm today, helpful:
‘Lord God, just and true, you make your salvation known in the sight of the nations; tune the song of our hearts to the music of creation as you come among us to judge the earth; through our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.’
‘Released to Shine’ Diocesan Conference
It was wonderful to gather with 134 clergy (Residential and day visitors) and 85 lay people (including some Centenary Project Workers, Focal Ministers, Deanery Lay Chairs, Readers, Church wardens and other officers) on site, together with online participants, from 4- 6 July at The Hayes in Swanwick. Though we are still processing the feedback from which there will be much to learn, there were some real highlights and points of celebration. To name a few, we were blessed by superb input each day, including Archbishop Stephen’s session on the Gospel in the North and Bible Studies from Professors Jenn Strawbridge and Steve Moyise (Reader and Focal Minister in our diocese). These seem to have been much appreciated and generated helpful discussions.
This was also our first fully hybrid event, with online participants really appreciating the fact they felt as involved as those onsite. All using the ‘app’ to feedback group discussions and being able to join online workshops and worship (whether physically or onsite or totally online) meant that everyone could be involved in all the major events in a way that suited them.
For those onsite, it was a great opportunity to enjoy one another’s physical company after two years of Covid; social times of relaxing in the sun or in the bar, catching up with old friends and making new ones; networking; having fun together through quiz and games (football and cricket on the lawn) and even singing and a little dancing in the bar!
We are so grateful for the conference planning group, not least Dr Christine Gore who led the team, and Elizabeth Lunt for her support, along with many others who worked so hard before and during the conference to make it such a meaningful event. We trust we will see the fruits of this gathering over the coming years as we continue to play our part as Lights for Christ.
Maternity Leave arrangements for the Diocesan Secretary / CEO to the DBF
Many of you will be aware that our Diocesan Secretary, and CEO to the Diocesan Board of Finance is expecting a baby. We extend our hearty congratulations to Katie and James and every blessing for the coming months.
Katie intends, with our full support and warm encouragement, to take an extended period of maternity leave, beginning at the end of August. She has been working hard to ensure cover and a robust plan is now in place. Essentially, we have tried to separate out ‘strategic work’ from ‘business as usual’. ‘Business as usual’ cover (Safeguarding, Finance, Governance, HR and so on) will be provided by our Deputy Diocesan Secretary and Director of Strategic Communications, LJ Buxton. LJ brings a wealth of skills and knowledge to this role, and we are grateful to her. Cover for the strategic work (existing and future SDF bids, our engagement with the national Vision and Strategy, and our bids for the increased Church Commissioner funds in the next Triennium) will be provided by Mr Andy Brookes. Andy provided Interim Diocesan Secretary cover in the period before Katie’s arrival in 2020 and is therefore already quite familiar with our situation. LJ and Andy will work together on the continued implementation of our current strategy, alongside the development of a strategy beyond 2025.
I am confident that these arrangements will ensure Katie returns to order and not chaos in due course! Katie’s intention is to return in May 2023, please keep Katie and her family in your prayers. These cover arrangements will not incur any substantial additional costs.
New Members of the College of Canons at Sheffield Cathedral
After consultation with Dean Abi, Bishop Pete has invited four new clergy colleagues to become members of the College of Canons. They are the Revd Toby Hole, our newly appointed Director of Mission and Ministry; the Revd Eleanor Robertshaw, Team Rector of the Parish of Great Snaith; the Revd Mike Reeder, Chaplain at St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield and Chaplain to the Bishop of Doncaster; and the Revd Karen Cribb, self-supporting minister at St Mary, Bramall Lane, and Bishop’s Adviser for Self-Supporting Ministry. It is a delight to add to the College of Canons such a wealth and breadth of wisdom and experience. A Service of Installation will follow in the autumn.
Energy Footprint Tool: Deadline 31st July
On 8 July General Synod approved the Route Map to Net Zero Carbon by 2030. Dr Cathy Rhodes, our Diocesan Environment Officer and lay member of General Synod for Sheffield gave an excellent maiden speech in support of this work. You can view it here The full motion and more information can be found here.
Commitment to Net Zero is a fundamental part of our ministry and mission, and our Diocesan Synod formally supported this in November 2020.
The route map includes the need to have a baseline of the carbon footprint of church buildings, including church halls. Churches are asked to complete and return the Energy Footprint Tool for their Church Building(s) so that we can:
The Energy Footprint tool is completed and submitted via the Parish Returns system. The deadline for completion is 31st July. Thank you to all churches who have completed the tool so far. Schools, clergy housing, the Cathedral and Church House will be assessed using a separate Energy toolkit.
- collect vital data to allow us to track progress to Net Zero
- identify the churches with the largest footprints and focus Net Zero support there, whilst reassuring churches with a smaller footprint that major work is not needed; and
- have good information to help direct our applications for funding which will be starting soon
For further information and details of the carbon footprint tools and reports please see the Church of England website here. Our Environmental Projects team are on hand to provide help and advice- please contact them via email@example.com
A number of you have raised questions about restoration and distribution of the ‘Common Cup’ at the Eucharist. The guidance issued by the Church of England remains as follows:
Holy Communion should be administered in both kinds unless there is a clear and objective reason why there would be a significant risk in doing so, such as local public health warnings relating to coronavirus levels in your area. However, it is important that no pressure is placed on members of the congregation to receive the sacrament in both kinds if they feel unable to do so. Because of ongoing potential risks to health, an individual communicant may choose to receive only in the form of bread even if consecrated wine is being distributed.
If communicants do not wish to receive in both kinds, they may do so by receiving only the bread (communion in one kind, or the president may dip the bread in the wine before giving it to the communicant (simultaneous administration). Intinction by the communicant is not recommended.
Vote for Doncaster
Following the great news that Doncaster has been named as one of the newest cities, it is now also on the six-strong shortlist to become the headquarters of Great British Railways. Following strong applications from 42 local authorities across Britain, the city of Doncaster is now one of just a handful remaining before a public vote. The results of the public vote will be used to measure the level of public support for each location and will be considered as part of final decision making. It would be so helpful if you could add your support by voting now. Voting is open until 15 August 2022.
You can cast your vote for DONCASTER here.
This is the last Bishops’ Letter this term. Please be assured of our prayers for you all over the coming weeks. We would also be grateful for your prayers for the coming weekend for Diocesan Synod as we meet on Saturday and for Ordinations at the cathedral on Sunday at 4pm (Zac Veneable and Christine Herbert were unable to be ordained deacon at Petertide due to Covid). We would also greatly value your prayers as we join with episcopal colleagues from across the Anglican Communion for lambethconference.org We trust that together we will discern the way of the Lord as the psalmist declares: for ‘the world and all who live in it’.