Skills and Character 

One of the key strategies for the future of work and of wellbeing is the Government’s commitment to apprenticeships. In a world of less predictability about career paths, job opportunities and regular work, there is a welcome move to equip people with both the skills and the character to find useful employment – to develop the self and to contribute to the needs of society. This is true at every level. Training for the traditional ‘professions’ involves a mix of practical and theoretical learning – as much as preparation for more traditionally ‘hands on’ occupations. This “apprenticeship model” is recognised as an especially important approach to the preparation of young people for the world of work. Apprenticeships produce a creative mix of skills and character that equip people with ‘life skills’ that are flexible and the basis for future development. What can the Gospel contribute in this kind of world? 

1. Master and Apprentice 

Jesus uses and endorses the model of master and apprentice. A student will never become greater than their master (“it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher”. Matthew 1024). Rather there is a profound mutuality. Jesus gives Himself to those He calls to apprenticeships. In turn, like those first disciples or learners, we respond by giving ourselves into the great enterprise of His kingdom – in which we are given a share. The key to the Master-Apprentice relationship is not ‘what is in it for me?’ – but what am I learning to develop myself and to contribute to the enterprise. Self called into service for the sake of society. 

2. Apprentice and Master 

The learners/disciples called Jesus ‘Master’ but between them they were called, equipped and commissioned to offer particular leadership and ministries. Apprentices are learners discerning and responding to a call, accepting the responsibilities of a commission, and always open to future development, challenge and change. The Gospel places the exploration and ownership of vocation at the centre of each human journey, and as the key to the flourishing of society. 

3. Apprentices for God 

The Gospel witness is entrusted to Christ’s church. We must model and offer this commitment to ‘formation’ for ourselves and for our communities through our relationship with our ‘Master’ and Lord. Each parish is, at its most basic, a community of vocation and formation. In our Diocese the Director of Vocations and the School of Formation offer particular wisdom and resources to enable us to fulfil this kingdom responsibility most fruitfully. 

Take Time to Reflect 

In the ‘quiet’ month of August, when meetings are less and many church activities pause, it would be good if each of us took time to prayerfully examine our own apprenticeship – our vocation and our formation. Then, we need to play that part in the calling and forming of our churches, and in the further development of our own skills and character. A small step keeps the journey alive.


A model for today

July provides an interesting moment to consider the place of Grandparents. On 26 th July we are invited to observe what, for many, will be a very obscure feast: Anne and Joachim: Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The ‘Grandparents’ of Jesus.

We are especially conscious in our own times of the significance of grandparents. Providing support for family, and amazing energy into community life and the neighbourliness that keeps people connected in an age of increasing isolation and loneliness. Many of our churches benefit enormously from grandparental energy and commitment.

Gospel in Action

In grandparenting we see inspiring modelling of the value of family, the offering of time and skills beyond more immediate and self-centering concerns, and a huge generosity in sharing resources and offering sacrificial service.

Grandparents can be seen as a great advert for so many of the virtues that the Gospel endorses for the proper flourishing of human life. More, grandparents would be the first to acknowledge how much they receive from family, friends, social engagement.

God has no Grand Parents

And yet – there is a strange fact in the Divine Economy. God has no Grandparents! In Jesus we see God in our midst, Son of the Father. But no theology of a ‘Grand’ Father.

What might we learn from this mystery? First, the energy, commitment and contribution, not to say wisdom, of grandparents may seem to begin from an intergenerational set of relationships – but, in fact, it becomes something broader, richer, flowing beyond these merely human arrangements, to be part of an outpouring of a Spirit enabling greater wholeness. In theological terms, a ‘Holy’ Spirit. The significant factor is not one of generational sequences, but of gracious reaching out to enable a greater fullness of life, hope, faith, love. Origins and creation taken up into something new, ever broader and richer.

From human to Divine

Perhaps God has no grandparents because the point and the power of Life cannot be contained simply in human relationships or structures. Rather these necessary ‘arrangements’ are simply the vehicles God gives for His grace to be nourished, shared and tasted.

Grandparents often say that the great advantage they feel is the freedom to ‘go home’ and take a break from so much that they take on themselves. Home is the place for re-creation, reflection and reshaping our offerings into the world around us. Church provides this ‘Home’ in a special way.

The potential for alliance and connection between our contemporary phenomenon of grandparenting and the work and witness of the Church has never been greater. A key element for mission in our time. Perhaps the fact that God has no grandparents can provide an affirmation of grandparenting as service, a wider perspective of the Holy Spirit made manifest for the flourishing of all, and an agenda for each of us seeking to be Christ’s Church afresh in this generation – through the discipline of re- creation, reflection and being recharged.


The new Bishop of Repton, the Venerable Janet Elizabeth McFarlane, BMedSci, BA, was ‘consecrated’, or made into a bishop, today (Weds 29 June) in a stunning service held at Canterbury Cathedral, Mother Church of the 85m-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.


Bishop Jan made promises to act as a pastor to the clergy and parishes under her care, to faithfully teach the Christian faith and doctrine of the Church of England, to strive for peace and to lead with gentleness and mercy. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, led the service.


Working in the Diocese of Derby, the Bishop of Repton is a Suffragan (or ‘assistant’) Bishop, working alongside the Bishop of Derby in leading the Church of England across the whole of the county. Jan McFarlane is the first female Bishop in the Diocese of Derby, and in the East Midlands, and the ninth female Bishop in the Church of England.


As the second most senior appointment in the Diocese, she will be required to advise and consult with key people and organisations involved with the wellbeing of communities in Derbyshire.


Jan McFarlane said: “It was a wonderful service in magnificent surroundings and I’m delighted to have become the sixth Bishop of Repton. I’m passionate and energised by the Christian faith that I want to share with those who live, work and worship in the beautiful county of Derbyshire.”


The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern said: “Jan McFarlane brings an enormous range of gifts and skills to the Diocese of Derby. As our first female bishop I believe she will bring a new and fresh perspective that will be a great asset to our community.”


The Venerable Jan McFarlane (age 51) was educated first at Sheffield University, where she trained as a Speech and Language Therapist, and then at St John’s College, Durham; and she trained for ordained ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham.


Jan served her first curacy at Stafford in Lichfield Diocese from 1993 to 1996 and was among the first women to be ordained to the priesthood in 1994. From 1996 to 1999 she was Chaplain and Minor Canon at Ely Cathedral. Since 1999 she has been Director of Communications in the Diocese of Norwich.


From 2001 to 2009 Jan served as Chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich and has been Archdeacon of Norwich since 2009. She combines her role as Archdeacon with the posts of Director of Communications and Warden of Readers. She has been a member of the General Synod since 2005.


Jan is married to Andrew Ridoutt, a television cameraman. Her interests include exploring the beautiful British countryside, beaches and country pubs with Andrew and their rather mischievous Miniature Schnauzer, Edith. Jan has contributed to several books of prayers and reflections for Church House Publishing and broadcasts regularly on local radio.


As Bishop of Repton she succeeds the Right Reverend Humphrey Ivo John Southern, MA, who became the Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, an Anglican theological college, in April 2015.


Lincoln press release Click here

Christine WilsonArchdeacon Christine said: “ I am excited and deeply honoured to be invited to be the next Dean of Lincoln and at the same time saddened to be leaving a diocese where I have received such warm hospitality. I have enjoyed so many opportunities to grow and develop and serve the people of Derbyshire as archdeacon of Chesterfield.

Being a Christian is about following Jesus and answering his call upon our lives.

Sometimes that call comes unexpectedly, as it did when I first responded to an invitation from Bishop Alastair to explore the role of archdeacon in the diocese of Derby back in 2010. Having lived in Sussex most of my life it was a step of faith to travel north into an unknown county.  

In responding to that sense of call and vocation, the last six years have been filled with moments of extraordinary grace and generous support and encouragement. I have loved being one of your archdeacons.

It has been a privilege to work with some outstanding colleagues, to support parishes in their work of mission and ministry to their communities and be alongside so many dedicated and hardworking clergy and churchwardens. 

Now the Church is once again calling me on to a new ministry.

 I have so often found God to be a God of surprises and the journey of faith to be an exciting adventure.  As I prepare to leave, I go with gratitude for the impact that your lives have had upon my own faith and pray that the Christian community I leave behind will journey on, responding to God’s call, continuing to share the love of God with the people of Derbyshire.”

Bishop Alastair: “Christine has been an outstanding colleague and an important part of the leadership of the diocese. I am delighted she has been given this opportunity, allowing her to follow her vocation into a new ministry. She will leave a remarkable legacy.  There will be an occasion for us to say thank you to Christine for her contribution to the life of the Diocese in July.  Details to follow.”

We all recognise the tensions between our crowded, contentious mass society of competing views and values, and the Christian ideal of God’s children as a harmonious or ‘whole’ (holy) community. Such tensions run rife within and between our churches, as well as providing a key context for contemporary mission.

Running at Different Speeds

Part of the challenge is to recognise that God creates a bewildering variety of opportunities and possibilities. The Easter story reports the story of John and Peter running to the tomb – towards meeting the mystery of Resurrection. They ran at different speeds. John, the poet and person of imagination, the ‘mystical’ gospel writer, arrives first. He does not enter the tomb but he sees and believes - an intuitive faith. Peter, practical leader and organiser, comes afterwards but goes straight into the empty space – to check, question, seek more reassurance. Peter, the rock, displays the characteristics of the person concerned with structures, responses, solidity - less intuitive, more experiential. These two forces have been in tension within the church ever since. The art of being church in a way that creates community is to be able to live with discipleship running at different speeds and being gifted with different insights.

A Common Foundation

But there is a common foundation. This month we recall Matthias, chosen to take the place of Judas as one of the twelve apostles. His story reminds us that some discipleship, as with Judas, can run at a speed which is disloyal and destructive: too caught up with its own agenda. But the story of Matthias has another message. Two candidates were proposed, Joseph (or Justus) and Matthias. Doubtless they brought different possibilities. The choice was made by ‘lot’, not by detailed criteria. However, one qualification was essential – to have accompanied Jesus on His journey from baptism to Ascension, and thus to be a witness to the Resurrection.

From Baptism to Ascension

In our complex and challenging times, each of us is called to run more closely towards the reality of Resurrection. We will journey at different speeds, and bring different gifts and insights. Too often such a collection of Christians can look (and feel!) like a disorderly crowd. We need to make a witness to that deeper truth that unites crowds into community. The truth that each of us is called to be joined together in accompanying Jesus from baptism to Ascension – the journey of the Christian year – and to be a witness to the Resurrection. Even if our differences seem to be as profound as those between Peter and John.

The Month of May

May is the month of Matthias. The call to be on the team of committed disciples. It is the month of the Ascension – joining us in worshipping the Risen Lord and beginning the next cycle of accompanying Him on the earthly journey. Finally, May is the month of Pentecost when the Spirit who called and blessed Matthias was poured out on a vast range of people and perspectives, baptising them all with grace. So none of us have an excuse!

Be prepared to be called and to be challenged.


Download pdf here

What is a vocation?

Do you feel you are being pulled in a certain direction? Do you have a strong and overwhelming urge to do a particular job, be involved with a particular group of people or to use your skills to help others in a certain way?

It may be that you feel pulled in a new direction, or it may be that what you do already is your vocation.

We all possess some God-given gifts, some skills and some talents. But often we don’t fully recognise how gifted we are because these gifts have been with us for a long time and it is easy to take them for granted.

Or they may have been hidden in the shadows for some time. But there is in all of us something that people recognise and come to us for.

And their desire to do this is acknowledgement that we have something special that they don’t see in others. Read more here.


Explore Your Calling 

This PDF will help you take time to reflect and pray on how God is calling you.

Download the PDF

Download the accompanying booklet

Use the booklet to record your reflections as you are prompted by the questions.

This is something that you can work through in your own time and at your own pace.

You may want to respond to the questions and record your responses and then revisit it a few months later and reflect on how you’ve changed and developed.


Are you interested in exploring ministry further?

The Diocese of Derby wants to encourage gifted people - just like you - to consider where God is calling you.

We hold Vocational Reflection Days several times a year- you can spend time with others who are exploring how God might be calling them.

Could you be a Church Leader of the future? If you feel a sense of calling, whether to ordination or lay ministry, we will help you explore that and consider what to do next.


What to do next - contact the Vocations Team

We have a wonderful team of vocations advisers who are always willing to offer you some time to talk and think about what God may be calling you to do with your life.

This is a great opportunity to have an informal conversation about how God is calling you with "no strings attached".

Please use this form to talk to us about exploring your vocation and working with one of our advisers.

We look forward to hearing from you!

More information

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Easter Day: The church celebrates

Across the country and across the diocese Easter Day sees churches decorated, churchyards tidied, bells rung, flags flying from church towers, and people worshipping in significant numbers. Whatever their style of worship, at the heart of the Easter celebration is the rediscovery, in sacrament and prayer, that Christ is truly risen. Hope is renewed in many, many hearts.

The risen Christ: beyond the church

But I want to go on and suggest that the risen Christ is not only to be found in the church. Indeed the Easter stories that we read and hear in church tell of a Christ who was risen outside and beyond the gathered groups of disciples. They found him, and were surprised to find him, out in the world, on the road, and only then did they find him in their gathered worship (Luke 24: 13-35).

Christ is risen: in financial inclusion

I have become a director of a credit union, the Derbyshire Community Bank. One of the largest credit unions operating in our county, it is now moving into the City of Derby. Credit unions are about offering loans to people, often on the edge of financial well-being, who otherwise might fall into the hands of loan sharks. They offer loans on very reasonable terms. They can also help people to learn the discipline of regular saving. They also need investors of course, and it’s hugely encouraging to know that several PCCs in the diocese are looking to invest in the Derbyshire Community Bank. In the work on the bank’s board of directors I have come to sense the presence of the risen Christ – giving us energy and wisdom for the task. And in the work of trying to include people into the circle of financial well-being, I have sensed the Kingdom of the risen Christ, his work going forward. Hope, for those on the edge financially, is being offered.

Christ is risen: in school

In preparing our plans for a new Cathedral School in Derby, diocesan representatives and I went on site visits to see what excellent schools look and feel like. A school in Derby took my breath away. Educational attainment across the city is not uniformly high, but this was a school which has lifted standards and achievement markedly, has a brilliant atmosphere, and has a framework of care and attention to the individual child which hugely impressed me. I saw the Head Teacher speak to a young pupil who initially looked a bit lost and sheepish. The Head knew his name, knew about him, and knew just how to lift his spirit. The youngster seemed to grow by inches in front of our very eyes. Standards rising, an atmosphere of encouragement and esteem, a school running well and happily. Again I sensed Christ’s incognito presence as pupils and staff worked hopefully together, in an unglamorous spot, to draw the very best out of the possibilities that God provides.

At Easter, always and every where

On Easter Day we hear of Christ risen – and the stories we hear tell us to walk out into the world and find that it is so. So we rejoice, and we join in the work he has begun.

The Very Revd Dr John Davies
Dean of Derby

Hardwick Deanery Synods 2023

Dates and details to be added when confirmed.

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