Statement on the Westminster Attack
Yesterday’s events in Westminster have shocked and saddened us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are bereaved and injured. In particular we remember the family of PC Keith Palmer who was killed during the attack. We are grateful for the dedication and hard work of all the emergency services, and will continue to support our emergency and security services in any way that we can.
An act of terror committed by a lone individual can never be allowed to define or shape our attitudes or actions towards our fellow human beings. The decision that both Houses of Parliament will sit in session as scheduled today is a clear signal that we will not allow our democratic way of life to be disrupted by such actions. The Diocese of Leicester is committed to working for the mutual flourishing of all who live in the county and we will continue to uphold all that is good and challenge all that is wrong.
As a sign of our sympathies with those affected and our determination to continue working for the good of all, special prayers will be said tonight at 17:30 at Cathedral Evensong for the Police and our local and national government. All are welcome to attend, whatever their faith or belief.
Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester
Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester
*Lead me from Death to Life
from Falsehood to Truth
Lead me from Despair to Hope
from Fear to Trust
Lead me from Hate to Love
from War to Peace
Let Peace fill our Heart
our World, our Universe
Peace Peace Peace
Mother Teresa and Satish Kumar (a member of the Jain community), launched this prayer in 1981. It is an adaptation of a passage in the Hindu Upanishads, and has been used by people of all religions in peace meetings throughout the world.
From the Clergy - April 2017
One of the privileges in ministry is being part of conversations about God and hearing thoughts from a variety of perspectives.
My experience as a curate is that often a sermon or talk, far being a polished end-product, can feel uncomfortably like ‘work in progress’. It seems, however, that reflections and conversations about these sermons are where the Holy Spirit really gets to work.
I am writing following the second Sunday of Lent. Our Gospel reading was John 3. 1-17: sometimes entitled Nicodemus visits Jesus or, in our reading from a children’s Bible, Born Again.
Curiously, that morning there had been a reunion of everybody born at the Cottage Hospital in Market Harborough; hundreds of people who had been born there between 1910 and around 1990!
One member of the congregation commented, after the service, that they didn’t like the term Born Again as this term suggests that there is a two - tier system of Christians and those who are sure that they have been Born Again are clearly at the top and ‘going to heaven’.
Before getting too tangled up with the theology of this I decided to read the passage again from the NRSV Bible, the translation used for our notice sheets. Interestingly, it is Nicodemus, not Jesus, who introduces the concept of being ‘born again’. In his attempt to understand what Jesus is saying he declares that, ‘no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above’ (v.3) and ‘no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit’ (v5).
Jesus was distinguishing between our physical existence (birth) as flesh and blood humans and the work of God’s Holy Spirit which, like the wind, flows within and through us.
It is part of our life as Christians to notice God working through us, to ‘go with the flow’ to discern God’s will for us and to ‘harness the energy’ of God’s spirit to fulfil his will and our potential. When we do, maybe that is when we can be described as born again?
Keep it simple advised one colleague. Well I’m trying but it’s not easy… could we say born again is a bit like a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly? Or like a fallen leaf that is swept up and floats along where the wind takes it, its journey completed in stages?
Sometimes we try too hard to understand. As we journey through Lent and into the Easter Season, if we notice Christ’s kindness and are inspired to be kind, if we notice his forgiveness and are inspired to forgive, if we notice his sacrificial love and are inspired to love sacrificially…then we are born in the flesh and of the spirit, born from above and that is what counts.
Revd Jayne Lewis
Team day reports
Team day this year focussed on the new concept of ‘Resource Church’. What does it mean for the Team?
Vision for the future
A Resource Church is one that gives and goes. Its focus is on serving God in the wider community and not merely keeping its own show on the road. That was Team Rector-designate Barry Hill’s message to some 90 people from across the Harborough Anglican Team at their annual Team Day in January.
He stressed that while St Dionysius is the largest church in terms of numbers of people, and therefore provides the “critical mass” for growth, he saw the whole group as becoming a “Resource Team”.
“There’s often a temptation to make ourselves the architects and God the builder,” he said. Quoting from Psalm 127 (“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain”) he stressed that “God has to be the master architect, and we’re the labourers”. It was a sort of echo of President Kennedy’s famous words; we’re to ask not what God can do for us, but what we can do for God.
Barry Hill, who led the whole day at St Wilfrid’s church hall in Kibworth, defined a Resource Church as “a centre of effective mission and ministry, given more resources than it needs, so as to better reach the community and resource the wider church.”
Leicester Diocesan Synod is seeking to establish 300 new congregations in the county. Barry noted that “entrepreneurship seems to be in the DNA of Market Harborough.” He revealed that there are 4,750 VAT-registered businesses in the town alone. But 97 per cent of the population is not a regular part of an Anglican worshipping community, and over 90 per cent is not part of any Christian community.
Extra resources will be given to the Harborough Team to help it fulfil the vision of a Resource Church. Currently, that is an extra half-time clergy person, and the possibility of financial support for future projects to enable further mission.
Asked what a Resource Church might actually look like, Barry stressed that there was no set formula. Rather, it was something that would develop from, and be built upon, the existing people and activities of the Team. However, he did call for a “re-imagining” of church life and identified five possible developments over the next few years:
· Renewing existing congregations. The “colour” of their worship style is less important than the vibrancy with which that worship is practised, he said.
· Seeing new congregations established in addition to the existing ones.
· Supporting and training leaders and looking to God to raise up new ones.
· Connecting with specific people-groups in the wider community (children, teenagers, the elderly were among several mentioned).
· Possibly transplanting people into nearby struggling churches to help them flourish.
He added that in due course he hoped there might be more clergy. He pointed out that there is a national shortage due to the baby-boomer generation reaching retirement age together, but that the number of ordinations each year is rising steadily. He also suggested a house for interns who come to learn and support the work might be a future possibility.
The Team Day, which was topped and tailed with meditative worship, included several sessions in small groups in which such matters as our biggest passions, specific needs and priorities were discussed.
Brief comments were written down, pasted on boards, and will be transcribed. A sandwich lunch provided by church members gave further opportunity for networking and discussion.
When the new structure begins to take shape in the late spring, Barry Hill will be the Team Rector on a half time basis, with an emphasis on strategic leadership. He and his family will live at the Rectory.
A full time Associate Rector with special responsibility for the day to day pastoral care and ministry of St Dionysius and All Saints Lubbenham was due to be appointed in early February with the announcement following. The Associate Rector will live in Harborough but a suitable house will not be identified until after he or she is appointed. It is hoped that both will be licensed on the same day in early May.
Something in the air
With over 90 folk at the Team Day at Kibworth on Saturday 21st January 2017, it was as though there was something in the air….. and so there was.
The main business of the day was our introduction to Revd Barry Hill, Team Rector designate, then still almost 4 months from being in post, his initial thoughts on Resource Church and what it might look like.
So why Market Harborough? Apparently our district has a propensity of small businesses; ergo the town has a strata of proactive and resourceful individuals, fertile ground perhaps, skills that could be utilized for God. It is perhaps more likely that the Diocese, when planning a Resource Church thought that if the Anglican church cannot thrive in Market Harborough it likely cannot thrive anywhere, so, a good place for the first Resource Church.
So in essence what is a Resource Church? ……….a Church that can be granted more resources (both financial and human) than it necessarily needs, albeit as is the way of these things a presentation and justification will have to be made in order to bid for these funds. Revd Barry expressed confidence the bids would be successful and the funds would be forthcoming. Where clergy move on to pastures new the Harborough posts would not be lost. The Resource Church will provide for a centre of effective ministry and to resource the wider church and enable us to do more than we perhaps thought we could to better reach the community.
So what might this Resource Church look like?
As regards the way our churches are run now, we are not looking at wholesale change but perhaps a ‘turning up of the gas’, in all our expressions of church, doing what we do better and renewing our congregations. Change would be by invention not by compulsion. Rev Barry stressed that those who might most keenly feel the effect of change would be supported. The values of Resource Church are generosity, persistence, audacity and humility.
These resources can be used to -:
· Support struggling churches, reviving and enlivening
· Support existing leadership, find and most importantly train new leaders
· Widen the diversity of our worship around the current structure
· Work closely with our retired clergy and recognize the gifts they have to offer
· Create new expressions of worship in our churches and the community
Revd Barry stressed this is all something we would all have to work out together over a period of time, the reading from earlier in the day from psalm 127 had a special resonance and gave us a perspective for the future.
If the Lord does not build the house the work of the builders is in vain, it is useless to work hard getting up early and going to bed late, for the Lord provides for those HE loves while they are asleep. We don’t accomplish anything by hard work alone, by love He leads us.
Just a thought… picking up on the support for those who might most keenly feel the effect of change, this does rather throw up the point that the average age of our congregations throughout the team churches is at least sixty five years, our seniors who have led our churches for so many years have concerns that in some cases austerity has left a deficiency in our ongoing pastoral care and support for them and that they might further be overlooked by the advance of the Resource Church.
Interestingly there is a school of thought that senior communities somehow have a finite life span, surely this is obvious, hmm……so why have we always had a senior community? It does rather strike me that there are always new ‘sixty somethings’ to add to their numbers, after all, I am one! Just a thought, we do need to ensure we have a network of support in place in parallel with the Resource Church for what is the largest section of our church community.
Announcement - Sunday 29 January 2017
The Revd James Douglas Geoffrey Shakespeare
The Bishop announces that the Revd James Shakespeare, Team Vicar in Benefice of Market Harborough and The Transfiguration – Little Bowden with Lubenham and Great Bowden and Interim Bishop’s Chaplain, has been appointed as Priest in Charge of the Parish of St John’s Hill Road, Cambridge in the Diocese of Ely. It is anticipated that James will be leaving some time in May to take up this new role.
Into the Hills
Harborough resident Val Muir describes an exciting ‘other world’ experience supporting earthquake survivors
In December I returned home from three months in a poor country bordering eastern Malaysia. I had felt a ‘nudge’ to offer my support to Operation Mobilisation (OM) who were helping with the wider needs of earthquake victims. I am a trained counsellor and my role was mainly counselling.
I am 72 years old! When I announced my intention to go the first reaction of others was shock. They found plenty of reasons for me not to go: it would be too hilly; the water is undrinkable; you’ll get the stomach bug. Well, yes, some of this could be true but I had a deep sense inside that if the ‘nudge’ was from God. I would cope.
My family were most supportive and encouraging. Each step of the way I prayed that if it wasn’t right for me to go I would be blocked at some point. There were many interviews to go through and I could fall at any hurdle.
I didn’t, and on September 3 I flew to Amsterdam for 10 days initial orientation. We were ‘in at the deep end’. Our schedule was full on: language school; orienteering; early morning prayer meetings; afternoon worship times and learning about a new culture and way of living.
There were strict regulations about water usage; no chairs so we sat cross-legged on the floor; shoes had to be left strictly outside. Yet there was an amazing fellowship between the group, many of them fascinated that I was going with them ‘at my age’.
Nepal was boiling hot with some days up to 40°. I must admit I found it difficult to eat properly. Bananas and Sprite were my main diet. I coped ..... and I wasn’t ill!
I was invited to join a mountain retreat where some of the OM youngsters who worked in the remote villages would come down. We would be taken up in a minibus and meet them half way up in the National Park. I was warned it could take 10 hours or more to get there. In fact it took two days!
These young people were involved in church discipleship. I felt very humble that they stayed in these remote villages for two years or more and only met two or three times a year. Their nearest neighbours were two days journey away often involving two bus rides which could take ten hours each and then up to a day on foot.
I coached them in basic listening skills and counselling processes, introducing them to the basic ethos of Acceptance, Genuineness and Empathy (AGE again!). They soaked it up and I knew this was my main reason for coming. We had fun and laughter, even enjoying an elephant ride together.
On our return I was asked to work with the teams. As I became more known my last six weeks were very busy. I was working alongside the long termers, people who were there for two to four years. I felt that the cleaner, cooler air up in the mountain retreat had helped my energy levels. I could eat more healthily; I became more confident with buses and crossing roads, where no-one stops for you but somehow they gauge their speed accordingly.
I also worked with HIV and AIDS victims and their helpers. I started prayer walks which opened up many talks and discussions. I found the people interested. My favourite walk was down to a bridge close to my house. On this bridge I had my first view of the Himalaya: breathtaking sights of the snow-capped mountains. The Annapurna Range was beautiful. I had my Everest trip in the last two weeks.
We were encouraged to join a local church. Mine, two minutes down the road was amazing. The worship group and teaching were spirit –filled and I knew I would miss their friendship and warmth when I returned home I was asked to share my feelings of three months in ‘The Himalaya’. It was the dirtiest capital in the world; it had the worst toilets in the world, the most dangerous airport in the world, the highest mountains in the world and the most generous people.
Would I go again? I would go anywhere if God gave me ‘the nudge’. Are you being ‘nudged’?
Make “Truth” your 2017 Resolution!
Derek Williams offers some contemporary considerations of this well-used word
Oxford Dictionaries declared that “post-truth” was their word of the year for 2016. It means that objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals. It is a development of a word popularised by US comedian Stephen Colbert. He described “truthiness” as preferring one’s wishes to be true rather than believing what is factually true.
It has long been the case that many newspapers and some broadcasters gear their coverage to pander to the interests and opinions of their audiences. In turn, we tend to buy, or tune into, media that reflect our views. On social media, where fake news is now spreading like fire, and as destructive, we “like” or “follow” those who think and feel like us. So unconsciously we collude with “truthiness” and contribute to “post-truth” attitudes.
It’s not a new problem. The seeds were sown at least as far back as the 1960s, when traditional constraints were questioned and cast off in the name of freedom. Rapid developments in the scientific community revealed that previously-held truths were inaccurate, and demonstrated that with every new discovery we learn how much more we don’t know.
So it’s easy to shrug our shoulders with Pontius Pilate, faced by Jesus on the one hand and a mob baying for blood on the other, and ask cynically “What is truth?” Who knows? And we adopt the fallacy that all “truth” is relative: what is true for you may not be true for me. Hence, “post-truth”: if it feels good to me, it’s true.
That is not what Christians believe. Without needing to become obscurantist, and certainly needing to retain an enquiring and open mind, Christians believe that there are crucial objective truths that never change. And those truths form the basis for successful, meaningful, truth-full Christian living.
They are summed up in the creeds that we recite in our worship. Because they are summaries, they are open to discussion and interpretation. But they are based on some absolutes, not least that God is the supreme determinant of what is true and false, right and wrong. Some truths are not relative, even if our brains, superb as they are, cannot fully comprehend both the what and the why. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
When Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) he meant that he was the truth about God and the truth about life, demonstrated in human form. He spoke and lived truthfully.
The apostles call us to do the same as far as our human limitations allow. Instead of being “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” we are to “speak the truth in love” and thus “grow up into Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15).
So this year, why not resolve to learn more of God’s truth; consider rationally all sides of arguments and issues; and be measured in voicing opinions?
An extended version of this article together with Bible study suggestions is on Derek’s website: www.gentlerword.blogspot.co.uk
New Team Rector Appointed
After a false start and following the lengthy process described by George Marshall in the May edition this year a new Team Rector has been appointed. We welcome the Revd Barry Hill and look forward to his taking up office early next year.
Bishop Martyn describes how the new post will work. We reproduce his letter to the parishes in full below.
“The Bishop of Leicester is pleased to announce the appointment of Revd Barry Hill as the next Team Rector of Market Harborough combined with Diocesan Resource Church Enabler.
Barry will take up his new appointment in Market Harborough in Spring 2017 (working half-time) and this role will be combined with a new half-time diocesan role enabling the development of ‘Resource Churches’.
These are churches committed to the principle of generous giving and to sending people out from the Resource Church to establish fresh expressions of Church and new congregations and to resource mission and ministry across a wide area. Over the coming years, the Market Harborough Team will grow into being the first ‘Resource Church’ in the Diocese of Leicester.
Market Harborough is ideally placed to become a Resource Church both because of its size, its ministry team (which will be further strengthened by the appointment of an Associate Rector) and its location
Barry has worked with the Diocese of Leicester as Diocesan Mission Enabler since 2009. During this time he has overseen the development of fresh expressions of Church across the diocese and has played a significant role in encouraging local churches in their calling to serve their local community. He was previously Curate of Emmanuel Loughborough and has a background in the aviation business.
Bishop Martyn commented: “I am delighted that Barry Hill is taking up this exciting new role. He has been a very effective Mission Enabler in the diocese and this is the natural next step as the diocese commits to a strategy of developing a number of Resource Churches in different contexts around the city and county.
“Market Harborough is ideally placed to become a Resource Church both because of its size, its ministry team (which will be further strengthened by the appointment of an Associate Rector) and its location. I am particularly pleased that our first Resource Church will be in a vibrant market town and will be well placed in the coming years to resource mission and ministry in the rural South East of the county.”
Revd Barry Hill said: “The opportunity of a significant increase in resources for churches in making a bigger impact across a region is a wonderful God-given opportunity as we seek to invite the nine out of ten people who are not a regular part of a Christian community to know the fullness of life Jesus offers.
“I am delighted to take on this new role, working with very able colleagues in serving and leading the five Anglican churches of Harborough, and working in partnership with the wider community, the other churches of Harborough, and the Welland Valley Mission Partnership."
The Diocesan Resource Church Enabler role is being funded by the Church Commissioners and the diocese is hoping to access further funding to develop a number of other Resource Churches around the city and county.
Please pray for Barry, Pep and their two children as they prepare for this significant transition.”
Retreat at Monastero di Bose San Masseo Assisi, 16-19 June 2015
This summer I had an unforgettable experience, staying at a monastery on the edge of Assisi, home of the much loved St Francis. Going on retreat, usually for three days a year, has always been important to my Rule of Life, and a major spiritual resource for my ministry. This year, partly in preparation for receiving a new curate but also because of my life-long love of Francis, I decided to venture beyond our shores and try something new! The opportunity arose for me to visit a unique ecumenical community, now occupying a beautifully restored 11th Century monastery, that Francis himself is thought to have prayed in. The experience was profoundly renewing and will stay with me for a very long time.
I first discovered St Francis at the age of 14, and my vocation is bound up with his influence, the way that Jesus Christ has spoken to me through him. Interestingly, San Masseo sits astride Assisi’s hill, more or less equidistant between the various Franciscan pilgrimage sites.
It is close to the Church of San Damiano (a short walk away), in which Francis, the romantic young knight, first heard Christ call out to him: ‘Francis, repair my Church, which you see is falling down!’ Ten minutes’ walk up the hill, on the eastern side of the city, is the Basilica of St Clare, Francis’ female counterpart, who founded a contemplative order of nuns, living in strict poverty. In this Church hangs the original Byzantine cross from which Francis heard the Christ speaking to him.
Further down the hill, on the Assisi plain, is the large Basilica of St Mary of the Angels, containing the little Portziucola Chapel, restored by St Francis himself. Here he heard, in the words of Matthew, the call to ‘Preach the kingdom, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers… taking nothing for the journey.’ All of which St. Francis, with his early companions, went out to do! He set the world on fire with the love of Christ and showed that the Gospel is first of all a life to be lived.
The last site that I walked to from San Masseo (alongside the dramatic Basilica of St Francesco, which frames the whole city), is the hidden hermitage of the Carceri, some six kilometres walk up into the beautiful hills of Mount Subasio. Here is a place of immense stillness, peace and contemplation, where Francis adored God and his bounteous creation, allowing himself to be equipped for a life of mission and service. I too was privileged to pray there, a still point in a fast turning world. Having walked there in the heat, I was grateful for a lift back to Assisi with some visiting Catholic priests, one of them a Congolese seminarian, who told me about life in his home country.
Let me say a little bit more about San Masseo, where I spent most of my retreat. The monastery is a home of the Bose community, from North Italy, who live a life of prayer, hospitality and manual labour. All guests are welcomed, after the Rule of St Benedict, as if they were Christ. This in itself is a transforming experience. The hours of prayer, in the beautifully simple stone Church, are profound and melodious. I had never experienced the liturgy in Italian before! Lectio Divina is an important part of their life, listening for God speaking through the Bible. Food is simple and wholesome. The monastery is surrounded by vineyard and olive grove, which sounds romantic, but involves back-breaking work for the small community of brothers. Guests are housed in a well-equipped guest house. I truly appreciated, within the context of the liturgy, the gift of silence, for meditation, reflection and writing.
How did San Masseo affect me? It restored in me the simple joy of faith, of knowing that ‘the Lord is near’. I was reminded that at the heart of my active life is prayer, the wellspring from which all else flows: an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I found myself, as an Anglican, strongly connected to the universal church, of which we are a part, and much encouraged by our ministry in Harborough. I found myself drawn to make connections between faith and contemporary life at many different levels. And I glimpsed an outflow of creativity, as I reflected, prayed and read, including the following stanza - part of a longer poem, ‘Pilgrimage of Trust’ - about my time in Italy:
Returning to the fire which first drew me
Landscape bathed in iridescent light
Drawing from the well which first irrigated me
Water cascading onto thirsty ground
Inhaling the breath of wind flowing freely
The Spirit blows where it wills, Assisi fills
Feeling the fertile earth beneath my feet
Bursting with life, flower and grasses greet!
The invitation go on Retreat, joining with a community of prayer, enjoying their hospitality and soaking in the beauty of silence and creation, is a life-changing opportunity. It may take us time to overcome our inner restlessness (it does for me), but it is well worth it. The benefits are immeasurable. Why not try it? God may be trying to show you something.
Rev James Shakespeare
An Amos Trust Alternative Pilgrimage
Two and a half years ago I went on a pilgrimage to The Holy Land and visited many religious sites. I also went to a Palestinian refugee camp and a farm as well as hearing speakers from Palestinian and Israeli organisations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
This time the emphasis was on the plight of the Palestinians living in Israel/Palestine. The pilgrimage was ‘alternative’ because, for the majority of the time, we visited Palestinian projects in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Hebron, the Jordan Valley and Haifa. We did have a couple of days to visit the sites in Jerusalem and Galilee as well.
We learned what life is like for people who have to live in the shadow of the separation wall, are forbidden to drive on main roads, and endure the uncertainly of house demolitions.
The wall at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.
The painted slogan says ‘We can’t live so we are waiting for death’.
The skips are for rubbish, which is infrequently collected and so has to be periodically burned.
Hebron, where Israeli settlers have moved into the Palestinian city. We could show our passports and walk past the IDF soldiers into the settlement. Palestinians cannot do that, or return to their confiscated homes in the area.
A demolished house on the left.
Palestinians have to apply for a permit to build, but these are rarely granted, and so they are forced to build in the knowledge that the IDF can come along and bulldoze their houses at any time and with little warning.
The house on the right was rebuilt with the aid of Amos Trust volunteers shortly after Easter. The family of nine had been living in one room in a nearly refugee camp. Although they hadn’t fully moved in all 35 of us were invited inside, seated and served mint tea! This house is less likely to be served with a demolition order because of the involvement of the international community in its rebuilding
What hope for the future?
Peacemakers like these men, a Palestinian ex-fighter and a Jewish rabbi, who became united in the cause of peace once they started talking to one another – something that just doesn’t happen under normal circumstances - and started the Roots Project.
For more information please visit websites such as:
The Amos Trust - www.amostrust.org,
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions - icahduk.org/
The Roots project - http://www.friendsofroots.net/
Ma’an Development Centre