Sally-Anne Beecham, Curate in Bakewell Benefice and SS Augustine Chesterfield, reflects on how the coronavirus outbreak has shaped her curacy.
Like all clergy, the Covid-19 outbreak turned my ministry on its head.
However, when most churches were asked to close their doors, the one I’m working in had an exemption to stay very much open.
Overnight, Gussie’s Kitchen, the food project being run from Ss Augustine in Chesterfield, became the main food distribution hub for the town.
Yesterday we delivered to 200 vulnerable households using a fantastic team of volunteer drivers and packers.
My job has been to give information and offer support over the phone in my role as Chaplain - an incredible opportunity to reach out into the community.
I’ve had many significant conversations and I pray that relationships built during these days will bear fruit in the future.
Despite the many challenges, the shift in focus has created opportunities to model faith that were not present before, and it’s exciting to dream about how these can be progressed.
Since my ordination last year, the months have flown by, learning what it means to be a Christian presence in a rural town.
Relationship building is crucial
My highlights before lockdown have been out in the community getting used to my collar.
As well as the usual services, I had been raft-racing, dressed up in the carnival, led school assemblies, processed through the town on Remembrance Sunday and played Gabriel outside the pubs in the town nativity.
I was also involved in the beginning of a new congregation aimed at young families.
Overall, I’ve had my eyes opened to the challenges of juggling multiple churches and been overwhelmed by the faithfulness of those keeping the show on the road.
I’m also learning that Jesus’ model of relationship building is crucial and is what our communities are crying out for, so I’m excited to see what God has in store for us next.
Podcasts are a great way to engage with communities and congregations.
They are, effectively, short programmes that the listener can access at any time and from most smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Revd Andy Ward decided to use the free podcast service - Anchor - to reach out to local communities - and so the Moss Valley Pod was born!
It's a podcast from Eckington, Derbyshire, from the church to provide information, share ideas and generally keep spirits up.
Because church services are no longer taking place, the church launched the Moss Valley Pod to enable people to hear Bible reflections at home, rather than in church.
The idea then expanded to provide a platform to allow local organisations to keep in touch with people as situations constantly evolve.
Good news stories are always wanted for the Moss Valley Pod.
Revd Andy Walker said: “Times of crisis can bring out the best in people,
“These stories need to be shared to give people hope in the days and months to come.”
The podcast is released every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
>> Listen to the Moss Valley Pod
A thought for the day, based on those readings
Good news stories
Shout outs and thank yous
To get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org
‘They…fled from the tomb…and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid’
These were brave, tenacious women.
These women had made a choice to follow Jesus and stuck with him when others turned away.
These women supported Jesus, the gospel writer Mark tells us, risking reputation, livelihood and status when others found the costs too high.
These women were watching at the cross: they remained with Jesus to the bitter end, when others had abandoned him.
These women set out to offer the final act of loving service that had been denied him, when others hid in fear of the authorities.
These were brave, tenacious women.
But the empty tomb and news that Jesus has been raised from the dead, undid them. Sometimes, when we are holding ourselves together in the face of risk and fear, of uncertainty and loss, it is goodness that undoes us.
Like these women, many of us will have spent these past days being brave and tenacious – finding depths of determination and perseverance we didn’t know we had. And, truth be told, hiding, even from ourselves perhaps, the extent of our individual and shared trauma.
And it may be goodness that breaks through our protective armour. So, good news may be harder to hear this Easter than most years. But here it is:
You are beloved: precious and honoured in God’s sight,
And nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Jesus, who was crucified has been raised – and wherever you are this morning, whatever you are facing today, whatever you have had to deal with in these past few weeks, whatever the future may hold for you – the risen Jesus is there to meet you.
Those brave, tenacious women were undone by that good news, and
‘They…fled from the tomb…and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid’.
But fear did not, in the end, overcome love.
These woman took heart, literally ‘had courage’, and so the story continued.
Because of these women the story of God’s love continues – and through the centuries that good news has been carried and passed on, until we hear it afresh today:
“Do not be afraid; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here… he is going ahead of you”
So, my prayer, this Easter morning, is that we allow ourselves to be undone by love,
and, even in the midst of our fears, receive the good news of Jesus’ resurrection:
love has conquered death – Jesus is alive.
Alleluia is the Easter refrain: ‘Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.’
Alleluia means ‘God be praised’ – and it may not seem there is much to praise God for this morning.
But for Christians the Easter story is the ultimate reminder that love conquers all
– that even death cannot defeat love.
‘Alleluia’ can be our song even, especially, in the midst of pain and uncertainty.
For the Easter ‘Alleluia’ is never arrogant or overbearing, it’s not blind to reality but deeply rooted in it.
Easter day is only possible after Good Friday.
The Easter story reminds us that love conquers all
– and nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus
Early in his ministry Jesus outlined the characteristics of the Kingdom of God, and those who seek that Kingdom, in words that we call ‘the Beatitudes’. In them
Jesus turned the world’s understanding of what matters on its head, affirming the blessedness of those usually overlooked or scorned.
This week the cartoonist Dave Walker has rewritten the Beatitudes.
You might write your own, but here are his:
Blessed are those who stay indoors for they have protected others
Blessed are the unemployed and self-employed for their need of God is great
Blessed are the … shopkeepers for they are the purveyors of scarce things
Blessed are the delivery drivers and the postal workers for they are the bringers of essential things
Blessed are the hospital workers, the ambulance crews, the doctors, the nurses, the care assistants and the cleaners for they stand between us and the rgave, and the Kingdom of heaven is surely theirs
Blessed are the checkout workers and factory workers for they have patience and fortitude in the face of overwork and frustration
Blessed are the refuse collectors for they will see God despite the mountains of waste
Blessed are the teachers for they remain steadfast and constant in disturbing times
Blessed are the church workers (and faith leaders) for they are a comforting presence in a hurting world as they continue to signpost towards God
Blessed are the single parents for they are coping alone with their responsibilities and there is no respite
Blessed are those who are alone, for they are children of God and with Him they will never be lonely
Blessed are the bereaved, for whom the worst has already happened: they shall be comforted
Blessed are those who are isolated with their abusers for one day – we pray – they will know safety
Blessed are all during this time who have pure hearts; all who still hunger and thirst for justice; all who work for peace and model mercy.
Today, I do praise God for the hope that Jesus’ death and resurrection offers us all.
Today, I praise God for the signs of hope overcoming the pressures, limitations, and losses we currently face.
So, today, albeit quietly, I sing ‘Alleluia’
- and pray for you the grace, mercy, and peace of the risen Jesus this Easter.
In these two videos,Ven Carol Coslett, Archdeacon of Chesterfield, talks about the Feast of the Passover and how it became the Last Supper.
Archdeacon Carol also talks about what makes a meal special - and the best meal you've ever had!
Revd Liz England, of Buxton Team Parish, writes on Facebook:
Being Church while the buildings are closed
An idea for gathering together for a new kind of Church service...
We gather together at the same time to worship, in our separate homes, at usual service times, knowing that many of us will be worshipping at the same time; either with others in our household or on our own.
And how about setting an empty plate at the dinner table to remember Christ sits and eats with us, in communion with us, his friends.
As we look at how to continue to be the church during this period of uncertainty, many of us will be missing the opportunity to share the Eucharist, Holy Communion together.
I thought it may help to go back to the very first Last Supper when Jesus shared a simple meal with his friends.
I would suggest putting out an extra empty plate as we sit to eat our meals each Sunday, to simply remind us that our Lord Jesus Christ sits and eats with us, in communion with us, his friends.
A video from Bishop Libby - A Strange Place
Live streaming is just one way our churches are doing their best to keep engaged with congregations and communities.
Revd Tim Sumpter, vicar of St Stephen's Borrowash, tried streaming a service for the first time on Sunday - and the BBC was there to see how it went!
>> See the full report (from BBC News) and watch the video (below) from BBC East Midlands Today.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have advised that we should refrain from shaking hands as to offer each other a sign of peace.
So here's a video demonstrating a safe, easy and inclusive alternative!
Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) is delighted to confirm that the planning application for the development of the new permanent site for Derby Cathedral School has been approved.
Substantial works are now due to begin on site at the former Friar Gate Goods Yard in March 2020.
The Department for education (DfE) is responsible for leading the acquisition and development of the site for Derby Cathedral School as is the case for all Free Schools nationally. The DfE has therefore led on the procurement of a construction partner and will lead on the subsequent development of the new buildings.
The project is particularly complex as the site at the former Friar Gate Goods Yard has been unoccupied and undeveloped for many years and so the planning process has been rigorous, especially given the significance of the development of a new school in the City and the prominent location of the new building.
The programme for the delivery of the new school has been delayed due to the need to address the complex issues relating to the site, concerning drainage and traffic particularly, and the school will consequently start the third year of operation in the current expanded temporary accommodation.
Mark Mallender, CEO of DDAT, said: “We are delighted that planning approval has now been secured for this historic development of the first secondary phase Church of England school within the Diocese of Derby. I appreciate that our parents, carers, staff and students have been concerned with the time it has taken to make this announcement and I am hugely grateful for their ongoing support for the school. We are incredibly excited to see progress on site at the Former Friar Gate Goods Yard and we are looking forward to occupying the high-specification, state-of-the-art buildings and facilities our students, staff and communities deserve.
“We are also looking forward to welcoming a new headteacher to the school in the Summer Term 2020. Following a rigorous recruitment and selection process, we have made a fantastic appointment and will be able to share news on the appointment very soon.
“This is a very exciting time for Derby Cathedral School and DDAT as our journey to provide a first-class education to the young people of Derby now progresses at pace.”
The design work for the necessary additional refurbishment is complete and agreed by the school and the Trust and includes the required extra specialist teaching facilities. The further refurbishment works at Midland House will be funded by the DfE.
The space available at Midland House is more than sufficient to host a further cohort of students on a temporary basis and the Trust is supportive of the plans to refurbish an additional area within Midland House for use by the school which will ensure additional specialist teaching facilities.
The DfE is currently working with the appointed contractor, BAM Construction, to produce a revised timetable for the works which will include a planned date of occupation of the new site. The Trust will update the school community on the target date for occupation and contingency planning as well as progress on site as soon as possible.
Former Friar Gate Goods Yard
Clarification on National Restrictions from Thursday, 5 November 2020
10:00 - Sunday, 1 November 2020
Following the announcement yesterday by the Prime Minister that England will be placed under national restrictions from Thursday, 5 November 2020 until Wednesday, 2 December 2020, the UK Government has issued further guidance that includes Places of Worship.
These requirements are expected to come into law from Thursday, 5 November 2020.
Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
- Funerals (see additional note below)
- To broadcast acts of worship (with limits on those present)
- Individual prayer (where guidance can be safely followed)
- Formal childcare provision or where part of a school
- Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
- Other exempted activities such as some support groups.
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, and it is advised that only close friends and family attend. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people in attendance. Anyone working is not included. Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a support bubble.
Weddings will not be permitted to take place except in exceptional circumstances.
Further information will be available in the coming days.
New Covid-19 rules
14:30: Thursday, 24 September 2020
On Tuesday, the prime minister announced new measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 and some of the detail of how this will impact on churches and worship has become clear – though not all.
What we DO know so far is that:
- Places of worship may remain open, under Covid-secure rules
- From Monday 28 September, only 15 people will be able to attend weddings. Funerals will be able to take place with up to 30 people attending. In both cases, people must not be part of a group of more than six unless they are from the same household or support bubble.
The Church of England is studying the detailed documents regarding the new restrictions as they become available and is updating its FAQ section accordingly.
New guidance has also been issued on Test and Trace requirements and it is recommended that you make yourself familiar with this.
The CofE Recovery Group has issued updated advice on the conduct of public worship. Version 2.4 incorporates the Government’s ‘rule of six’ introduced on 14 September 2020 limiting gatherings of people, with some exemptions. The salient points, sections 5 and 17, have been updated to include this.
Please continue to check the advice in the CofE FAQs
Holding APCMs and APMs
14:30:Monday, 17 August 2020
The advice from the Legal Department at Church House, Westminster is that APMs and APCMs must now take place on or before 31 October 2020. The deadline for holding them cannot be put back again.
Some parishes will already have received e-mails from the Charity Commission, asking for their approved accounts.
Bishop Libby has signed another Instrument, dated 17 August 2020, which enables parishes, should they wish, to hold their APMs and APCMs remotely.
Please remember that you are not obliged to open your church or church hall for the purpose of these meetings.
Should you wish to do so, your risk assessment mustshow you have sufficient capacity to hold the meetings AND your archdeacon must have signed it off.
Further update on face coverings guidance
10:30: Tuesday, 11 August 2020
The following advice documents, together with relevant FAQs have now been updated on the Church of England Advice page: www.churchofengland.org/coronavirus
This is to take account of the fact that, from 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in places of worship, but that there will be exemptions for those leading the worship, and the bride and groom at a wedding (see below).
It will be issued in final form only after this guidance is issued.
- Updated Face coverings document
- Updated Baptisms document
- Updated Weddings document
- Updated Funerals document
- Updated Holy Communion document
- Updated Confirmation services document
- Updated Ordinations and Consecrations document
- Updated Conducting public worship document
- Updated Individual private prayer document
- Updated Opening cathedral and church buildings to the public document
- Updated Test and Trace document
- Updated Risk assessment template for reopening church buildings document
Update on face coverings
16:30: Wednesday, 5 August 2020
From 8 August, face coverings are also required by law to be worn in a greater number of public indoor settings including places of worship.
There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings.
In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship, and those who assist them (for instance by reading, preaching, or leading prayer) do not always need to wear a face covering, although one should be worn especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. distributing consumables).
This exemption does not apply to worshippers, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.
Face coverings during weddings
There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in places of worship. In particular, those who are leading services.
Those exemptions will also cover the bride and groom at a wedding and those officiating/leading the wedding (as long as adequate physical distancing can be maintained).
This exemption does not apply to those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.
The Church of England plans to add this information to its website as an FAQ later today and on social media. It will update all its advice over the next few days.
If the Government has not produced its advice by Friday the CofE will put up revised draft advice for Wearing Face Coverings and the Advice on Holy Communion on Friday, followed by all other updated advice after the Government advice is published.
New rules on face coverings
14:00: Friday, 31 July 2020
People attending places of worship will be among those required by law to wear face coverings, in a change that will be applied from 8 August.
The Church of England will make any necessary changes to its guidance early next week and those details will be available here as soon as possible.
Updated FAQs on CofE website
Updated 09:00: Tuesday, 28 July 2020
The FAQs on the CofE website have been updated with details covering:
- Should we wear a visor for presiding and preaching?
- What can we do about our annual parish meetings?
Advice on face coverings in churches
Updated 16:30: Friday, 2 July 2020
The Church of England strongly advises that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.
Read the full guidance (on the CofE website)
Can face coverings be removed for Holy Communion?
Yes. See Q2 on the CofE updated Holy Communion document, which says: "The Government guidance for the safe use of places of worship encourages people to wear face coverings in places of worship and other enclosed public spaces. We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship where there may be other people present. This includes not only members of the congregation but also the president and any other ministers. Face coverings should only be removed to receive Holy Communion."
Also - please note that in light of recent changes to governement advice, the CofE is reviewing ALL its own guidance documents.The latest versions can all be found here.
Bell ringing may resume in churches
Updated 16:30: Friday, 03 July 2020
It has been confirmed that bells can be rung in churches from 4th July, on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance by the CofE and the CCCBR as outlined in the Advice on opening church buildings to the public.
Ringing remains at the express permission of the incumbent.
There is a specific requirement that ringers have read the guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.
Opening churches for public worship
Updated 13:30: Wednesday, 01 July 2020
Churches are allowed to open for public worship, weddings and other services from 4 July - all with restrictions - and detailed advice for parishes and cathedrals is available on the Church of England website.
However, it is important to note that churches should not rush into this process and should not consider opening for worship until the necessary hygiene and social distancing precautions are in place.
Further information about this will be issued to clergy and church officers in Bishop Libbys Covid update on Friday 3 July
Before a church can open for public worship, a risk assessment must be completed. Where a church has already completed a risk assessment for private prayer, a new risk assessment will need to be done before public worship can take place.
An advisory ‘cap’ of 30 has been set for weddings and other ‘stand-alone’ services such as baptism and confirmation if not conducted during ‘routine communal worship’.
There is no numerical ‘cap’ on other services, but social distancing and Public Health requirements must be met.
Consideration should be given to keeping numbers below the maximum possible to further minimise risk.
Wearing of face-coverings is voluntary.
Government guidance includes a request for names of attendees to be recorded and kept for 21 days to assist ‘track and trace’ if required (further details from the government are expected to help parishes and cathedrals who wish to do this).
Singing, chanting and playing of brass or woodwind instruments are not recommended, but a further update will follow soon.
Detailed instructions on ‘consumables’ suggest that services of Holy Communion can be held if specific guidance is followed, including the continued suspension of the Common Cup (see the guidance document on Holy Communion).
Public worship guidance includes surrounding grounds (including churchyards, car parks and courtyards); meetings in other places should follow other guidance for people meeting in public spaces. Refreshments can only be served at tables if a café is included in the church or cathedral building.
Further Government advice about use of churches and church halls for non-religious activity is expected.
Statement on individual prayer in churches
The Government has now revised the date that churches may open for private prayer to 13 June, and has issued new guidance today (12 June).
Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households. Collective or communal prayer and regular scheduled services are not permitted at this time as set out in Regulations. This includes a Minister of Religion or lay person leading devotions or prayer of any sort.
Although the guidance allows for places of worship to reopen, as always the decision of how and when to begin the process of doing so for individual private prayer will be taken locally.
It is not compulsory for churches to open for private prayer and some may not choose to do so until a later date. Churches should only open if they have the resources and safety measures in place and there will be instances where it is simply not feasible or desirable for a church to open for private prayer.
Members of the public are advised to check a church's website or check with the vicar before going to a church to pray.
In the Diocese of Derby, amongst other things, there is a requirement that any church planning to open for private prayer must complete a risk assessment and have it approved by their archdeacon before opening.
Other important points:
- It is permissible for employees, volunteers and contractors to enter a place of worship prior to reopening for the purpose of making preparations so that the building can be used safely. The place of worship must remain closed to the general public during this time.
- Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions. Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household. This may mean that some regular volunteers or church officers cannot return to church buildings in any capacity for now.
- Individual prayer within a place of worship is defined as a person or household entering the venue to pray on their own and not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act. They should be socially distanced from other individuals or households. Collective or communal prayer and regular scheduled services are not permitted at this time, as set out in the Regulations. This includes a Minister of Religion or lay person leading devotions or prayer of any sort.
- Individual prayer should be carried out such that adherence to social distancing of 2 metres all round can be maintained between individuals or those from separate households. Restrictions should be set locally to limit the number of people permitted to enter the place of worship for individual prayer at any one time, so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres can be maintained.
- No food or drink is to be made available.
- Churches are encouraged to make sanitisers available for visitors to use on entering and leaving the building.
- Activities such as singing and/or playing instruments must be avoided, with the exception of organists, who are able to use buildings for practice with appropriate social distancing.
- Where visitors have the option to light a candle, do not use or provide matches or re-usable tapers. Those wishing to light a candle should ensure their hands are completely dry (so that no alcohol from santisers remains) and light a candle from an existingcandleflame.
Provision for lighting candles should not be available in unattended buildings.
Clergy may continue to stream prayers and virtual services from their church, maintaining the current guidance that only one member of clergy and one other member of their household can enter the church for this purpose. Such recording or streaming of worship must be done when the church buildings are closed for individual prayer.
Advice for parishes
For advice to churches about how to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, please check the information below and the relevant pages on the national Church of England website here: churchofengland.org/coronavirus.
Do bookmark the national C of E page and keep visiting it. The situation is developing, and new advice is being added all the time.
Do read the Q & A section on the national C of E website here for more details, including advice about streaming worship and prayer from home, and other digital resources you can use.
This national Church of England advice about coronavirus is based on guidance from Public Health England and the government recommendations about staying at home.
The Discipleship, Mission and Ministry team is maintaining a page of Ideas and Inspiration for churches and parishes
>> Church open for private prayer poster [Word doc]
>> Church building closed poster [Word doc]
>> Zoom meetings: Guide for attendees [PDF]
One of the options during the coronavirus outbreak is for clergy or ministers to offer liturgy, prayer and teaching from their own homes.
You can read some of the advice about recording video material and live streaming here.
And please see our list of forthcoming live-streams in the diocese.
A number of parishes have asked about the delivery of parish magazines, pew sheets, Palm crosses or Holy Week orders of service to those parishioners who may be housebound or self-isolating. The advice from the national C of E is that door-to-door deliveries do carry a risk of transmitting the virus, as the deliverer may well be touching garden gates, letterboxes and of course the items they are delivering.
The scientific evidence suggests that the virus can remain on cardboard for 24 hours, meaning that letters, leaflets and envelopes will carry a similar risk. Wearing gloves may protect the volunteer deliverer, but could transmit the virus from House A to House B unless they washed between each delivery. And, of course, deliveries of such items are not classed as essential travel by the government.
There is, of course, a desire for churches to keep in touch with those who are housebound or self-isolating who do not have access to digital technology.
Our advice is that pastoral support can be carried out by phone calls. If items do need to be delivered, they can be sent by the Royal Mail, as postal workers have been given training in how to deliver items more safely. It also cuts down on the number of visits to each household. This advice echoes the advice of the national C of E, which you can read under the FAQs here.
Resources to help you pray and worship at home
As you are confined to your home, you may want to engage with some of the spiritual resources that are available online, to help adults, young people and children in your household or your congregation to continue to pray and worship. You can find out more on our Ideas and Inspiration page.
The national Church of England has also put together some liturgy and prayers that can be used at home, which you can find here.
Prayer resources for children
During the Coronavirus lockdown, this page will be the location of “Faith at Home” resources. These are designed to use with children and adults together.
Each Holy Week and Easter in Spondon, St Werburgh's provides a full retreat experience for folk who otherwise cannot access going on retreat.
For some it's down to limitations of cost; for others it's because a full week away from family/work at somewhere like Launde Abbey is just beyond their reach.
So St Werburgh's takes the retreat to them. The retreat is provided at no cost to the individual - the whole idea is to provide the experience of a guided retreat for anyone.
Each person who makes the retreat gets a spiritual director, with whom they meet each day at a time and a place that works for them around their daily life.
Those who are able get together for morning/evening prayer and compline and, as a larger group, they gather to celebrate the Eucharist 'in the round’ each evening of Holy Week.
This year, teaching is being led by Beth Honey and folk from Derwent Oak.
Retreatants and all the parish come together for Maundy Thursday (everybody gets their feet washed), Good Friday and the Easter Vigil and a bonfire on Saturday night, leaving folk free to return to home parishes for Easter Day.
For more details, please contact Revd Julian Hollywell: email@example.com
“What have you been doing at school today?”
“We’ve been resurrecting dead bodies.”
Actually, the children of Crich Church of England Infants School had been helping Bishop Jan consecrate the new parish graveyard below the church.
On a perfect February afternoon with a pure blue sky and low winter sunlight pouring down the hill, the gathering of children and adults had witnessed an ancient rite which none had seen before nor were likely to see again.
Bishop Jan in her full regalia, complete with Doc Martens, first fielded such questions as ‘Why are you dressed like that?’
Once such matters had been cleared up she explained the nature of the ritual, held her crook aloft and announced she was a chief shepherd.
The children were encouraged to answer with a few bleats but from then on they were drawn into the beauty and the sacredness of the proceedings.
Bishop Jan led the procession along the hedgerows reciting psalms and pausing at each corner to mark a solemn cross in the wet grass.
Where the gas main bisected the burial ground the gathering was informed that this stretch could not be consecrated, because it might be necessary one day to disturb the pipeline.
The children, silent and respectful, carefully picked their way around the unhallowed plot.
At the conclusion, the Registrar in her wig and gown read the declaration and Bishop Jan told the children that this was now a place where the villagers could lie safe and at rest in Jesus.
And for a few minutes, the children and all the gathering stood quietly in that glorious winter sunlight and thought about the past and the present and the future and the eternal rest that Jesus gives.
Then Bishop Jan led her flock up the lane and into the church for drinks and cake.
Martyn Offord, Churchwarden, Crich St Mary.
At Holy Trinity in Shirebrook, we have formed a partnership over the past four years with Junction Arts, a Chesterfield-based charity whose principal activity is the promotion and development of access and involvement in the arts through art and regeneration activity within the district of Bolsover.
We first worked together on a project to provide art and craft activities for children and young people during the school summer holiday.
Junction Arts arranged artists and skilled crafts people to come each week and work with young people.
Funding was also obtained to allow the town youth worker to attend and as a congregation we provided lunch for the young people who attended.
Food was donated by the local Co-op so it was a real community collaboration. At the end of the summer, we hosted an art exhibition in church and an Awards Evening where young people received recognition for their creative work and their growth in social and other skills.
Since then we have hosted a play ‘The Great Austerity Debate’ an interactive theatre piece that toured the country, the play challenged some of the views that were held about the situations many people in poverty find themselves in.
Then came the ‘Processions’ project, which marked 100 years since some women in this country were given the vote.
We got together with women from across Bolsover District and worked together to produce a banner – not unlike the banners carried by the suffragettes.
It was such a good time of coming together as women in a community with shared experience and it also crossed some of the cultural divides we have locally as women from the Polish community also got involved.
The banner took many weeks and many hours of sewing to complete, but finally it was ready. We travelled to London as a group and marched with women from up and down the country – there were 100 banners from 100 communities, and it was an inspiring day in all sorts of ways.
The banner is now on tour – it has been to Derby Cathedral, Chesterfield Library, Holy Trinity church, and will end its journey in September.
Our partnership with Junction Arts has allowed us to engage with our community in ways which might not have been possible given the limited resources we have as a congregation.
It has been a joy and I hope we continue a long and fruitful partnership.
I would encourage any church approached by a local art/creative foundation to grab the opportunity!
Revd Karen Bradley, Team Vicar, East Scarsdale Team Ministry