Bishop Libby's series of podcasts in which she reconsiders the Christmas story by talking to modern-day equivalents of some of the Nativity’s main characters – the innkeeper, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men and more.
Episode #1: The Innkeeper
Bishop Libby is in conversation with Andrew Allsop, co-owner of Morley Hayes near Derby.
How does today's hospitality industry reflect the role of the innkeeper?
Safeguarding is everyone's business
Ensuring the Diocese of Derby provides a safe and caring environment for everyone - but especially children, and adults who may be at risk of abuse and neglect. Victims and Survivors are at the heart of our safeguarding work.
Congratulations to all those who were awarded Bishop's Badges in two special services. See the photos here.
When I was a teenager my ambition was to be a missionary, taking the gospel to the indigenous people of the Amazon on a jet ski! While it’s not been quite that exciting, my faith journey has taken me through some interesting experiences, both here and abroad.
Since those early days I have remained interested in how God calls people to service; following their journey as they discern the voice of God calling them to service in the church, both lay and ordained.
I am committed to helping the church to be more inclusive in its selection of clergy. Being one of very few Black priests I think I may be particularly helpful to those from ethnic minority backgrounds, but I would be privileged to work with anyone who came to me.
Shemil was born and brought up in Kerala, South India.
He first studied for a Bachelor's and Master's degree in English language and literature, before achieving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Theology from the University of Gloucestershire, and then an MTh from Oxford University.
He was ordained in the Diocese of Peterborough and has experience of working in Sri Lanka as a CMS mission partner.
Shemil is the Anglican chaplain at Oxford Brookes University and Vocations Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford. He is a founding member of AMEN (Anglican Minority Ethnic Network).
He is a trainer in Unconscious Bias awareness and a tutor in Contextual theology. His first language is Malayalam and has a working knowledge of Tamil and Hindi.
Shemil is married to Becky, who is the vicar of Allestree and Quandon in Derby. He holds Permission to Officiate from the Bishop of Derby.
The IICSA report was published in October 2020. A briefing setting out the key findings of the report can be found here:
The Diocese of Derby is conscious that the work of the public inquiry may trigger memories and be traumatic for some individuals.
Bishop Libby would like to reassure anyone who is affected by the content of the IICSA report that the Diocese will take seriously any concerns or information relating to safeguarding within the Church.
Should you wish to talk to someone about this, the safeguarding team is available to work with you directly, or to signpost you to the most appropriate resource, and can be contacted on 01332 388678 or via this link: https://derby.anglican.org/en/safeguarding.html
The team is available if you want to talk about any new or non-recent concern relating to any church officer or person working within the Church.
More information about IICSA can be found at https://www.iicsa.org.uk/.
Bell ringers of all ages will be ringing bells across Derbyshire on Thursday, 6th June to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Places where you can hear bell ringing in the evening include: Church Broughton, Cubley, Derby Cathedral, Eckington, Hayfield, Ilkeston, Kirk Hallam, Old Brampton, Old Glossop and Shirland. Long Eaton's bells will be ringing in the morning.
To find out more about bell ringing please visit the Bell Ringing Derbyshire Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BellRingingDerbyshire/
Image by Don Jones
During Advent, in the run up to Christmas, we pray: ‘even so, come Lord Jesus’.
Our prayer longs for the fulfilment of God’s promise that the risen Jesus will come again in glory and, at last, death shall have no more dominion, every tear shall be wiped away, sword will be turned into ploughshare, and, by God’s merciful judgement, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Our prayer also hopes, in the meantime, for the fulfilment of God’s promise that the risen Jesus will be with us always to the end of time.
‘Come, Lord Jesus’ is a prayer not just for the end of all things but for today.
It is a prayer that remembers that Jesus first came to ordinary people in the midst of their everyday life.
I’ve been having conversation, in the run up to Christmas, with people in Derby and Derbyshire whose everyday today echoes the ordinary lives of those in the first Christmas story.
I’ve heard stories of sheep farming, chatted with a hotel owner, learnt about midwifery, talked to a broadcaster, met with an educator and listened to a child. (You can hear these Christmas Conversations through Advent via this diocesan website derby.anglican.org or my BishopLibbyLane Facebook page).
God chose to become part of everyday people’s ordinary lives when Jesus was born.
Those we read about in the gospels weren’t particularly special people, weren’t especially good or religious, wouldn’t have made history except that God chose to share their lives.
God chooses that still.
And so, we glimpse heaven in the ordinary, as I did through my conversations.
As I pray this Advent, in the run up to Christmas, ‘even so, come Lord Jesus’, I’m hoping to catch sight of God in the everyday lives of people around me, people like you – the ordinary people of Derby and Derbyshire.
Not because we’re particularly special or especially good but because this is how God chooses to be known.
And until the end, when Jesus comes in glory, we find the Kingdom of God among us
The Rt Revd Libby Lane
Bishop of Derby
Towards the end of last year I was fortunate to have some study leave, which I spent in Oxford as a visiting fellow at Harris Manchester College. For much of its history, the college had a particular affiliation with Unitarianism and there are still some reminders of that heritage. In the college chapel there is a set of windows depicting the six days of creation. Each of the six lights shows an angel holding a globe representing what happened on that particular day. Above each of the angels is a caption – Enlargissez Dieu – a quotation from the French Enlightenment philosopher, Diderot. It means something like, ‘Broaden your concept of God.’ The point is an obvious one. How do we find out about God through the workings of the created order? And how often do we choose to ignore that?
One of the leading figures in the college a hundred years was a man called L P Jacks. I came across a passage in one of Jacks’s books, about the place of religion in schools, which I think, despite its somewhat dated language and style, is a good example of what Enlargissez Dieu might be about:
Not long ago I met one of our great schoolteachers – a veteran in that high service. “Where in your time-table do you teach religion?” I asked him. “We teach it all day long,” he answered. “We teach it in arithmetic, by accuracy. We teach it in language, by learning to say what we mean – ‘yea, yea and nay, nay!’ We teach it in history, by humanity. We teach it in geography, by breadth of mind. We teach it in handicraft by thoroughness. We teach it in astronomy, by reverence. We teach it in the playground, by fair play. We teach it by kindness to animals, by courtesy to staff, by good manners to one another, and by truthfulness in all things. We teach it by showing the children that we, their elders, are their friends and not their enemies.”
“But what,” I said, “about the different denominations? Have you no trouble with the parents?” “None at all,” he replied; “we have half a dozen denominations. But we treat the children, not as members of this church or that, but as members of the school, and we show them that, as members of the school, in work and in play, they are members of one another. We teach them to build the Church of Christ out of the actual relations in which they stand to their teachers and their schoolfriends, because we believe that unless they learn to build it where they are, they will not learn to build it afterwards anywhere else.”
“Do you talk much to them about religion”? I then asked. “Not much,” he said, “just enough to bring the whole thing to a point now and then.”
Finally, he added a remark that struck me – “I do not want religion brought into this school from outside. What we have of it we grow ourselves.”
From A Living Universe (1924)
I see in the words of Jacks’s schoolteacher the articulation of a profound theology of mission. It has been said that the starting point of a conversation or process is likely to be the finishing point, too. If we start with a narrow, diminished concept of God, we are likely to see everything within that restrictive framework. Perhaps Enlargissez Dieu would be a better watchword for our thinking about apologetic and mission.
I trained as a teacher and have spent most of my working life within a local authority context, but am now a Vocations, Learning and Formation Officer and loving it!
I am based at Church House in Derby but am happy to travel throughout the County.
I am inspired by the report ‘Setting God’s People Free’ and excited by the vision it presents of a truly enabled church.
I see vocation as God weaving each of us into a tapestry – each of us is a unique and vibrantly coloured thread which can only create a beautiful whole by interweaving with others.
It doesn’t matter what type of thread you are, what colour, or whether you are a bit frayed around the edges - God can use you to weave a better world by sharing the message of His love.
He is calling you to something uniquely wonderful -your vocation – whatever that may be.
I’d like to leave you with a question paraphrased from Paulo Coelho: ‘What are you doing with the talents that God bestowed on you?’
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