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Bishops’ Letter, Monday 25 April
Dear Friends,

Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
(Acts 12:25-13: 3)

Today the church remembers with thanksgiving, St Mark the Evangelist. Mark wrote and told the story of God’s love. He witnessed to Jesus’ power to save and transform lives through the pages of his gospel; Jesus’ power over wind and waves, sickness and disease, racial and social divide, finally triumphing over death, bringing life for evermore. In this season of Easter, we are reminded of this new life made possible for each one of us as his disciples.

On Saturday, it was a delight to spend the day at the cathedral with over 200 young people and their leaders from across the diocese of Sheffield for Breathe Deep 2022. Towards the end of the day, all gathered were offered an opportunity to make their own response to Jesus. I never fail to be moved by a person saying yes to God, recognising the love that God has for them, all that Jesus did and choosing to follow him.

It is a very simple step but people are often unaware. Many have not had the opportunity to respond to God’s love personally. Mark the Evangelist simply could not keep the good news of God’s love to himself, he wrote and spoke of it at a time when it was incredibly risky to do so.
Perhaps there are people we know who would love to take this step. They may even know we are followers of Jesus but have no idea that they can follow him too. Maybe there is an opportunity for us to take this week to share God’s love as Lights for Christ in the world, holding out the word of life so that others can find life in Jesus’ name.

Archbishop’s Easter Sermon
You will no doubt have heard the significant response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Day sermon commenting on the government’s policy to transfer to Rwanda, those entering the country through channel crossings illegally. It was claimed that the CofE had not condemned Putin in the light of the Ukraine invasion as much as it had condemned this Rwanda policy.

It may be helpful to set out the response to the horrors of recent weeks in Ukraine clearly for the avoidance of doubt.  The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an act of great evil and spoken out repeatedly against it. In his Easter sermon the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of the suffering and terror being experienced by Ukrainians, called on Russia to withdraw its forces and said “let the darkness of war be banished”. Speaking on Question Time this month, Archbishop Justin Welby said rulers responsible for war crimes in Ukraine would be held to account by God. He has described Russian atrocities as the “obscene killing of God’s precious children” and said those leading Russia’s war of aggression must “rediscover their humanity”. On Good Friday, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell wrote in the Yorkshire Post: “We must all rise up to make sure Putin does not win. Peace is something we have to make and commit to each day.” Meanwhile both Archbishops, along with many other faith leaders, are gravely concerned by proposals to send migrants overseas. They will continue to speak out against these plans on moral and ethical grounds.

We too stand with our Archbishops and with many of you condemning the heinous events of recent weeks and continuing to pray with and for our brothers and sisters across Europe and right around the world as we pray for peace and for the protection of those most at risk of harm in these dreadful circumstances.

Breathe Deep
At the event on Saturday, all those who are 13 years and over were invited to join in the Breathe Deep Community to help them stay connected and to grow as Lights for Christ. If you would like to find out more about this, you can join in via Instagram @breathedeepcommunity. Youth leaders can also connect as a youth group. Do look out for pictures and feedback from this great event and you might like to make a note of the 2023 date, Saturday 20 January 2023.  

Ministry in schools
As all our schools are now returned from Easter break this is a good time to wish staff a good term ahead.

You are no doubt aware that our diocesan strategy presents a great opportunity to develop our connections between churches and church schools. As a Diocese we are looking to each link church to have someone identifiable and active within school. This may be a parish priest, oversight minister or focal minister. We also recognise that the calling to be the person who makes the links to school can be a particular ministry for someone within a linked church.

As a Diocese we are committed to ensuring those undertaking such a ministry should be fully trained and, with this in mind, we are working with Christians and Sheffield Schools, along with the Methodist Church, in providing the School Chaplaincy & School Ministry Training Course. This offers one of the most comprehensive programmes for schools ministry, covering topics such as school expectations and boundaries; children & spirituality (SMSC); characteristics of Generation Z; multi-faith settings; safeguarding; mental health; loss and bereavement; identity matters and more.

The course is not exclusively about Church schools so offers the added bonus of equipping participants to also support other schools within their area.

The 2022 course will be taking place in person on 22-23 and 29-30 June, from 10am to 3pm, venue to be confirmed. Registration and attendance cost £60.

It’s possible to apply now by downloading, completing and returning the forms found here.

If you are interested in this role and want to contact our Diocesan Director of Education, Huw Thomas, he would be happy to have a conversation

To find out more about the course contact Fiona Walton  for more information.
As we renew our models of ministry, we encourage every church linked to a church school to consider how this vital ministry can be undertaken.

Upcoming learning opportunities
We are encouraging as many as possible to attend Unconscious Bias training taking place on 11 May during the day in Campsall and 15 June in the evening in Rotherham. This is an important step towards recognising the ways in which all of us are affected by the way we prejudge people and situations even when we are not aware. Becoming equipped to understand why and how this happens is the first step towards treating others with greater justice and equity. To register please visit the Diocesan learning community website here.

The next Leading Well event takes place on Thursday 26 May, 9.30-2pm at Chapeltown, Rev Linda Maslen from Fountains Church, Bradford will bring reflections from her experience of ‘The church as an agent of transformation’. This promises to be an excellent day of learning together as we seek God’s transformation across our mission area and wider Diocese. Please save the date. Details of how to book will follow soon.

Sheffield Diocesan Conference 2022 - Bookings now open for lay people & active retired clergy
The next Diocesan Conference will take place this July at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick. The Conference will bring us together as we seek the renewing, releasing and rejuvenating touch of God. Booking is now open to lay people who have been nominated by their incumbent/parish (one per parish) and active retired clergy. We have three ticket options: 
  • Residential – we have places left for lay participants wanting to stay for three days. You must have the support of your parish. These places are open now and are first come, first served.
  • Day delegate – Tickets are available for attendance on any one of the three days.
  • Online – Tickets are available for online attendance. We are partnering with a hybrid conference specialist to deliver a fully engaging conference online as well as onsite. This will include fully interactive keynote sessions, workshops and worship.
Every residential participant is asked to make a contribution of £30 towards the costs of the conference. Likewise, those attending for the day are asked to make a contribution of £10 towards the total cost; those attending online pay a £10 fee for online access to the whole three days. However, if any participants would like to make the full payment of £193 (or an additional part-payment) towards their place they are welcome to do so. Bookings close for onsite attendance 3 June. Bookings for online attendance will remain open until the final day of the conference. More information and booking details are on the Diocesan website here.

As ever this comes with our prayers for you and your households,
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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