Lent is a wilderness time for many of us. A season to take stock; to recollect God’s faithfulness, to remember our sins, to repent and to rediscover that God is indeed our refuge
. As some of you will have heard me say at the Shrove Tuesday lecture, this Lent, the truth that God is our refuge
is particularly pertinent for me (+Sophie).
Today, taking refuge
has connotations of hiding away, withdrawing perhaps, from that which is going on around us but in the Old Testament, the word is used quite differently to tell us something wonderful about our God. In Hebrew the root word is chasar
meaning shelter or protection. Verse 9 makes clear that it is as we make God our refuge
that we experience his protection, that we truly come to know him as our place of refuge
. We do this by collective memory as we are drawn back to the love of God in Christ in the eucharist, through the ways in which he has spoken and acted in our lives in the past, not so that we are held there but releasing us for the future. So, we become more trusting, more hopeful and more able to shine as Lights for Christ
in the world. This season, may we be ever more confident to invite others into the knowledge of the truth we have discovered, that God is indeed our refuge
, yesterday, today and forever.
The Bishop's Annual Lecture 20 & 21 February
It was enormously encouraging to be able to gather together in person for this event, for the first time since 2019. We were so very encouraged to see so many of you. If you were unable to attend, you can catch up by watching both Hannah Malcolm’s lecture ‘The Church in the Anthropocene: Being human, being holy,’ and +Pete’s bible study ‘Chaos in Creation: Job 38-41 and the challenge of the climate emergency’ here
Joined Up Conference
We were encouraged that so many attended the annual Joined Up Conference on Saturday at Victoria Hall and Central URC in Sheffield. The day was aimed at anyone working with children, families or young people, whether in a church context, detached or schools based. There was a full marketplace made up of local and national organisations, with useful resources and ideas for to take away or purchase. We were privileged to have Lucy Moore (Head of the Church of England’s Growing Faith Foundation, and founder of Messy Church) as Keynote Speaker along with workshops, worship and resources. We are grateful to the youth, children’s and schools’ workers across Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham, Wakefield and Leeds, who come together each year to deliver this fantastic event. Look out for more from the day, over the coming weeks here
Bishop Pete’s Lent Lectures 7th March to 20th March 2023
All are warmly invited to come along to a devotional lecture based on Psalm 22. The lecture will be offered three times across the Diocese in Lent. Each lecture will last for about 50 mins, with 20 minutes for questions and comments. This will then lead into Compline led by the host clergy. Each event will last 90 minutes in total. Tuesday 7 March, Doncaster Minster, 7pm. Thursday 16 March, Rotherham Minster, 7pm. Monday 20 March, Sheffield Cathedral, 7pm.
Coronation Weekend Webinar Thursday 9th March 11.00 – 12.00 & Resources
As you will know, churches are being encouraged to take part in the festivities around the Coronation of His Majesty, King Charles III, taking place on Saturday May 6th
. To help make the most of this opportunity, a Church of England webinar is being offered to all parishes:
Celebrating the Coronation Weekend at your Church (Thursday 9th March 11.00 – 12.00)
The coronation of King Charles III gives a wonderful opportunity for churches to engage their communities in celebration and worship, and to support volunteering, as well as to pray for the King. This webinar will introduce the national plans and resources for the coronation weekend with suggestions as to how to use them locally to create a memorable and outward-facing occasion. Hosted by Stephen Hance (Vision and Strategy Team) with colleagues from the National Church.
Click here to join on Zoom
Webinar ID: 919 8743 4700
The Webinar is specifically targeted at parishes and explores ways in which they can take part in the Coronation Weekend programme, no matter the level of resource they may have.
There is a wealth of resources being produced both for use in church and community as well as for schools and collective worship. You can view them here
and this will be updated regularly as more resources become available.
Bishop Pete to be introduced to the House of Lords
Bishop Pete would value your prayers as he is introduced to the House of Lords on Tuesday next week, 14th. He is keen to make an effective contribution there for the benefit of the communities we serve across the Diocese. He hopes to be more visibly the Bishop of Sheffield, not less, on account of this new responsibility. There will undoubtedly be opportunities to make new partnerships both across our region and at Westminster, for the sake of the coming kingdom of God. It will however require some adjustments to his diary going forward (and by implication to Bishop Sophie’s diary), since he expects to spend about three days a month at Westminster, in a block, most months in which the House of Lords is sitting; and once or twice a year he will be required to be the ‘duty bishop’, Monday to Friday. However, his first priority remains unchanged: to see the Diocese of Sheffield renewed, released and rejuvenated in the power of the Holy Spirit, as we bear witness to the salvation God has won for us in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Chrism Eucharist 2023 – Monday 3 April 2023
This year the Chrism Eucharist will take place in the Cathedral at 19.00 on Monday 3 April at which +Pete will preach and +Sophie will preside. During the Chrism Eucharist there will be a Renewal of Commitment to Ministry and also the Blessing of the Oils. After the service there will be an opportunity for prayer and laying on of hands for healing and also for anointing for ministry. Refreshments will follow. At the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist all clergy, lay ministers and church army officers are encouraged to robe and process as a visible sign of our shared vocation to ministry. Please register your attendance at the service and your intention to robe by booking here
Easter Vigil Service at Sheffield Cathedral
Dean Abi writes: ‘We would like to welcome parishes across the Diocese who may have candidates for Baptism and Confirmation to take part in the Easter Vigil Service at Sheffield Cathedral. This is the traditional time of year to baptise and confirm new Christians as part of the Easter celebrations and this year our service will take place at 8pm on Saturday 8th April. It will begin with a bonfire outside the Cathedral and the lighting of the Paschal Candle symbolising the risen Christ. Bells are rung noisily in the service to show that Christ is victorious over death and fireworks following the service will celebrate the Resurrection and welcome new Christians into God’s family with colour and light. Any parishes who have candidates who would like to join this service are welcome to be part of this and anyone who does not have a similar service in their parish church is also welcome to come and join us for this special part of Holy Week. If you have candidates for baptism and/or confirmation and would like to join this service, please email email@example.com
Living in Love and Faith
We recognise from the communications we are receiving that some are especially wrestling and perplexed in the light of the General Synod outcome in February. There is much that remains uncertain at this time, ahead of any assurance that may be provided by the ‘Pastoral Guidance’ document, still to come. We are both fully committed to meeting with and listening to, those who wish to engage with one or both of us personally or as a group. Both our diaries currently reflect this commitment in full. We realise there may be those who do not wish to come to us, or who need a different kind of support, perhaps quietly and away from their current context. To that end we are seeking to put in place a chaplaincy provision. We will provide further details about this as they are confirmed. Please be assured of our daily prayers for all of you, whatever your conviction and wherever you currently find yourself.
Link Diocese of Bondo
Following the development of our relationship with the Diocese of Bondo in Kenya, at the Lambeth Conference in July, Bishop Sophie will be following up an invitation to visit the Diocese of Bondo from 27 April to 4 May. She is delighted to be accompanied by Rev Huw Thomas (Diocesan Director of Education) and Miss Sophie Boughton (Centenary Project Worker at St Johns, Owlerton). The full itinerary has not yet been confirmed but we do know that it will include a service of confirmation at the Cathedral at which +Sophie has been invited to preach, which is a great honour. We also hope to develop a strong link with our schools here in the Diocese through this visit. We are grateful for the work of the Sheffield Diocese Bondo Link Group who are working on plans both for this visit and also in preparation for a return visit we will be delighted to receive from our colleagues in Bondo in July 10 – 17 this year. We will be developing an itinerary that will further develop our relationships and maximise our support for one another as brothers and sisters of the Anglican Communion.
We would value your prayers today as the Bishop’s Senior Staff Team gathers for our annual retreat day. We will be reflecting together on passages from John’s gospel as we seek to draw closer to Christ and receive afresh from him.
And as your bishops we would also value your prayers on Thursday through to Friday lunchtime as we meet residentially with our episcopal and diocesan secretary colleagues from across our region (Yorkshire and the North East) that we will be an encouragement to one another and discern the ways in which we may work best together.
As ever this comes with our gratitude and prayers for each of you,