News from the Diocese of Worcester

Diocese of Worcester

Michael Clarke receives Canterbury Cross

Canon Professor Michael Clarke was recently presented with The Canterbury Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his service to the Church of England over many years. He was one of 30 Christians honoured by Archbishop Justin in the 2018 Lambeth Awards, which are given to people from across the Church who have given extraordinary service in fields including conflict resolution, education, worship, journalism and evangelism.

Michael said: “I am overwhelmed by being awarded this honour: it came completely out of the blue. The presentation was in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace, a wonderful, mediaeval riverside building,in part of which the Archbishop of Canterbury lives when in London.The afternoon was a lovely mix of formal and informal. After receiving our honours from the Archbishop, everyone relaxed over tea and cakes, and generally enjoyed talking to the other people there.They represented the Anglican Communion from all over the world as well as the United Kingdom; most of them looked “ordinary” but their citations told otherwise. The weather was perfect, so most of us wandered in the beautiful Palace garden with its Spring blossom, before gathering again for Evening Prayer in the Chapel. It was altogether a wonderful day, made for memories!"

The Lambeth Awards, launched by Archbishop Justin Welby in 2016, recognise outstanding service in different fields, including those of the Archbishop’s ministry priorities of prayer and the Religious life; reconciliation and peacebuilding; and evangelism and witness. Christians from Africa, the Far East and the UK are among the recipients of this year’s awards.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Archbishop said he wished to express the thanks of the Church and the wider community for the recipients’ outstanding contributions in their fields. He added that he hoped the world at large will “see what these people have done and understand that, in their different fields, they show forth values which are our values, Gospel values of love for humanity, reconciliation and selfless service; and, more widely, values common to all people of good will.”

Michael’s award citation:

Canon Professor Michael Gilbert Clarke – The Canterbury Cross for Services to the Church of England, for outstanding service to church and society over many years.

Michael Clarke has given outstanding service to the Church and society in many areas over the years. Nationally, he has served the Church from 1990 to 1993 and from 1995 to date on General Synod, where he has been an exemplary chair of many tricky and complex debates, including that on the Revision Stage of the draft Women in the Episcopate Measure in July 2010, the order paper for which ran to 37 pages, surely a record. The bewildering kaleidoscope of amendments made it quite unclear what the outcome might be. Michael chaired the sometimes impassioned debate with consummate skill, articulating succinctly the effect that each amendment was intended to achieve, so that members could vote with understanding and confidence. More importantly, perhaps, he set the tone of the debate with a lightness of touch and even an element of humour. He has served on the Dioceses Commission from 2008, as Chair from 2010, in which capacity he steered the process which led to the formation of the new Diocese of Leeds in 2014. This required a huge commitment of time, energy, wisdom and skill and a profound grasp of the needs of the church and its mission.

He served on the Council of the Queens’s Foundation for Theological Education, Birmingham, from 2005 to 2011. He was one of the first lay members of Chapter at Worcester Cathedral, from 2001 to 2010 and now chairs the Cathedral Council. He is also the Worcester Chair of the Three Choirs Festival which attracts visitors from all over the world to the city and the cathedral. Beyond the Church, he has just completed ten years as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.


Sermon podcast: Easter 5

Press the play button to listen to the recording or click on the Download link to download a .mp3 file to your computer.

In the cathedral where I work, a visitor approached me. ‘How do I get out of here?’ she said. ‘Madam,’ I replied, ‘has your visit been that bad?’ ‘Not at all,’ she chuckled. ‘But no one’s called me “madam” for many years’- to which I could only answer, ‘Respect where respect is due, madam.’ And off she went laughing. 

I remember another occasion when the local church which I used to attend was praying for a Mrs Spooner, who had complications with her pregnancy. She was the wife of the local newsagent. So when I next went into the newsagent, I asked the owner how his wife was, and mentioned that I’d been praying for her, which brought a smile to his face and evidently much comfort. 

On another occasion, I was attending a meeting a hospital, and as I left the complex of buildings, a man approached me and asked me where the alcohol centre was. From his manner it seemed that he’d had a bit to drink - there was an alcoholics’ centre in the place which he wanted to find. I didn’t know where it was but offered to help him find it.We located it round a corner in an out-building, and I rang the intercom.A voice answered, and I asked if someone from the centre were available. No there wasn’t, the voice came back, the centre was all shut up for the day. So there I was in the grounds of this place, it was dark, a bit cold, with this man who was much the worse for wear, for whom I was now beginning to feel a bit responsible. The man was sitting on a wall, and I sat next to him, and we chatted for a bit. I thought that the best thing was to get him home, and so I offered to give him a lift.We staggered to where my car was parked, I managed to get him in the passenger seat, he was able to direct me, and I managed to get him inside his house. It was littered with empty beer cans, piled high in every room and lining the stairs, and I chatted with him for a bit before leaving, hoping that he’d settle down and sleep it off.

We come across strangers every day, in fleeting, short encounters, from the person behind the counter in the supermarket, to the person sitting next to us on the bus or train, to the person perhaps sitting behind us in the pews this morning-people whom we might never see again; people with whom our exchange is brief and passing.

There’s an example of such an encounter with a stranger in today’s reading from the book of Acts-the apostle Philip has an encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch, travelling in his chariot between Jerusalem and Gaza. The eunuch is wondering about a conundrum, and finds Philip travelling beside him. They fall into conversation, they travel together, the encounter is transformational, ending with the eunuch’s baptism, and, in that lovely phrase, the eunuch goes on his way ‘rejoicing’. It’s thought that the book of Acts was written by the author of Luke’s gospel - Luke’s gospel is, if you like, volume 1, and the book of Acts, volume 2 - and so it’s no surprise that there are strong parallels between this story, and the story at the end of Luke’s gospel about Jesus appearing to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In both stories someone is travelling on a road in confusion; in both stories, a Christlike character draws alongside them; in both stories there’s an unpacking of the scriptures, and understanding by the confused person which warms their heart; in both stories there is what amounts to a sacramental outcome - the baptism of the eunuch in Philip’s case, the breaking of bread in the Emmaus story; and in both stories the Christ-like character then mysteriously disappears, leaving the other characters to go on their way changed and transformed-rejoicing in the case of the eunuch, running back to Jerusalem in the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The parallels between these stories reinforce this dynamic of chance encounter with a stranger, which leads to such transformation that the person encountered goes on their way rejoicing.

What a lovely phrase that is for applying to our own chance encounters that we have with strangers every day. How can we draw alongside them, interact with them, converse with them, in ways that are transformative, transformational, and send them on their way rejoicing? If we can manage that, we’ll be entering into this dynamic of scripture, we’ll be following the model of scripture, we’ll - to use an image from today’s gospel reading - be abiding in Christ the vine, and Christ the vine will be feeding into us, his branches. 

Questions:

  • What sort of fleeting encounters with strangers feature in your life?
  • What do you do, what can you do, to send those people on their way rejoicing?

​Bewdley, Ribbesford & Button Oak

We pray for Kim Leach, our Children’s and Families’ worker, for our work with St Anne’s school, for the clubs, Mothers’ Union and all activities that reach out to families in Bewdley. Clergy: Megan Gibbins; Readers: Barbara Fauset, Mike Robinson 

Diocese of Central Florida (USA): Bishop Gregory Brewer 

Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast (USA): Bishop Russell Kendrick


​Vocations Sunday

There’s an old quip that says – ‘if you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’ 

Vocation is about living out the implications of the faith we profess. Crudely put there are two kinds of vocation – a) serving the world in God’s name by acts of compassion or justice, and b) resourcing the church to better serve the world in God’s name…. We need both! 

Traditionally vocations have been understood in terms of ordained ministry, and we desperately need more of such vocations, people who will energise and envision the community of faith in its witness and mission by word and sacrament. But vocation mustn’t be limited to this. Vocation is simply the answer to the question, how do you offer life in the service of God and of others and God’s people (lay and ordained) can do this is a huge variety of ways, both within the church and within society. 

Vocations Sunday offers us an opportunity to stop and reflect on our vocations individually and corporately. Are we living our faith as we would like to? What changes might we make? Who might we encourage to consider some form of ministry more seriously? 

Pray that God will foster a variety of vocations in our churches and communities and give us the courage to recognise and encourage the vocations of others. 

Kidderminster Deanery - Rural Dean: Hugh Burton; Lay Chair: Bernard Watkins 

Diocese of Blackburn: Bishop Julian Henderson with Bishop Philip North (Burnley) 

Diocese of Brechin (Scotland): Bishop Nigel Peyton 

The Lutheran Church in Great Britain: Bishop Martin Lind 

The Anglican Communion in Japan: Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu 


BCUIM

Pray for the Chaplains of the Black Country Urban Industrial Mission: Ian Hancock (Pensnett Bus Garage), Tony Stone (ASDA Brierley Hill), Matthew Gordon (Walsall & Dudley Mental Health NHS: “Grit” Men’s welfare project), Steve Bentham (Haden Cross Fire Station), Matt Brookes (Brierley Hill Fire Station), Dudley Town Centre Team coordinated by Jeremy Parkes and Bill Mash at Merry Hill Shopping Centre where we are seeking to set up a multi-faith chaplaincy team.

Diocese of Central Ecuador (USA): Bishop Victor Scantlebury


Suckley, St John the Baptist

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

Suckley, St John the Baptist

An application has been made to the Worcester Consistory Court for a faculty to authorise the re-ordering of the Church building including removal of pews (retaining installation of accessible toilet, kitchenette and meeting room in north transept, partition screens to vestry arches and tower

Copies of the relevant documents may be inspected at the Diocesan Registry.

If you wish to object to the proposal you should write giving reasons for your objections to me at:

8 Sansome Walk
Worcester

WR1 1LW

Please ensure your objection reaches the Registry not later than 11 May 2018

You should give your name and postal address and state the capacity in which you write.

S C Ness

Diocesan Registrar 


Suckley, St John the Baptist

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

Suckley, St John the Baptist

An application has been made to the Worcester Consistory Court for a faculty to authorise the installation of new fire alarm, lighting, hearing loop and audio visual equipment

Copies of the relevant documents may be inspected at the Diocesan Registry.

If you wish to object to the proposal you should write giving reasons for your objections to me at:

8 Sansome Walk
Worcester

WR1 1LW

Please ensure your objection reaches the Registry not later than 11 May 2018

You should give your name and postal address and state the capacity in which you write.

S C Ness

Diocesan Registrar 


​Kidderminster Ismere Team Ministry

Pray for St Peter’s Church in Cookley, for churchwardens Marlene and Jackie, for the dementia café and for work in the local community. Clergy: Nigel Taylor 

Diocese of Central Busoga (Uganda): Bishop Patrick Wakula


Ministers encouraged to talk about vocation in new campaign

Nearly 30,000 serving ministers, both lay and ordained, are being encouraged to hold at least one conversation a month about vocation with someone different from themselves, in a campaign launched by the Church of England.


Bishop welcomes proposed plastic ban

NEWS / The Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment has said recent proposed Government environment initiatives mean this could prove to be a ‘great week’ for environmental policy in the UK.