Ministry during the pandemic has certainly looked somewhat different to the regular parish ministry we've all been used to.
Revd Bryony Taylor, Rector at St James Barlborough and St John the Baptist Clowne, writes:
Despite having worked as a social media consultant before being ordained, I still have had to learn not to play the comparison game and compare my ministry during lockdown with that of other churches.
Comparison, they say, is the thief of joy!
So before I share some lessons I’ve learnt during lockdown, be encouraged that it is your faithfulness to God that counts more than anything!
There are three areas I have been interested to see grow or be affected by this time of pandemic:
People’s discipleship has deepened in a lot of areas during lockdown.
Unmoored from the safety of our church buildings, people have been expected to fend for themselves spiritually.
I distributed some prayer booklets before lockdown and a number of people have told me that they have been praying far more than usual during lockdown.
People have found it helpful to create a routine that includes prayer.
I set up a ‘dial a sermon’ system so that people can ring a phone number to listen to this week’s sermon.
Several people have told me they ring the number twice a week, once on a Sunday and then they listen again later in the week.
That’s something you can’t normally do with sermons (and is a bit scary for us preachers!)
But I’ve been deeply encouraged that people have been engaging with sermons in depth and learning more about their faith.
Much has been said about online viewing figures being a lot higher than the numbers we usually have in the pews on a Sunday.
I’m not so interested in the numbers, however, but more in individuals who have engaged with our online worship, perhaps for the first time.
I joked with people that if they get bored they can always fast forward me or mute me.
But joking aside, I think that the fact that you can ‘dip your toes in’ to worship without fear of ‘getting it wrong’ and also do that in your pyjamas if you like, acts as the bait to attract new fish!
It is much easier to send someone a YouTube link than to bring them physically with you to a church service.
The online environment is the ideal place for us to be ‘fishers of men’.
Disabled people have been aware for a long time of the importance of using technology to enable them to be included in worship.
This has been highlighted during lockdown and I hope that we will continue to ask the question ‘who is not here?’ when we plan our services.
How can we continue to reach people when we return to worship in our buildings?
I will be continuing to offer a midweek Eucharist on Facebook and also over the phone (using telephone conferencing) on a Thursday morning to ensure that those who are still self-isolating have a way to connect with God and each other.
I hope this pandemic will unleash far more awareness and inclusion of those who are usually unable to attend our churches in person.
If you want to learn more about some of the technology I mention in this article, please visit bryonytaylor.com for detailed guides on how to set things up.
Disabled people and the Church - Moving from Access and Involvement to Inclusion
Disabled people’s experience of Christianity
Tweeted on 6th December 2019 by Gregory Mansfield
Stranger to me, a wheelchair user:
”If you believe in Jesus and seek forgiveness, you will walk again.”
Disability is not sinful.
Disability is not faithless.
Disability is not a punishment.
In July 2020, Tim Rourke started a one-year project to help the diocese, deaneries and churches in the Diocese of Derby to listen more closely to the voices of deaf and disabled people.
These voices include people in our churches, people who have been in our churches and left and people who have never felt that church was a safe place for them.
Tim works is involved in a pioneering community in Chesterfield called Holding Space.
They enable people affected by disability to meet with God in inclusive, accessible ways.
There is a group for disabled children (Saplings), disabled adults (Struggling Saints) and a group for carers (Solace).
This community also connects with people who don’t identify as disabled, but live lives affected by physical and mental health conditions and learning disabilities.
Tim also runs a weekly Biblical Reflection on Twitter (@Strgl_St_Bible) where, each week, readings are discussed through the lens of disability.
The reflections are always led by a disabled Christian, but anyone is welcome to join in.
Tim says: "When we studied the Trinity Sunday readings it became clear that similarity and difference are both vital to community – In the disabled community on twitter we experience a sense of togetherness and not fitting in that draws us together but the range of illness we have means we are different, but support one another."
Disability Inclusion Working Group
Tim is drawing a Disability Inclusion Working Group together to help him to listen to voices across the diocese, in our churches and beyond, to research with them models and theologies of disabilities that will help us examine how we currently engage.
The group will advocate for deaf and disabled people and provide training and encouragements for Christians in the Diocese of Derby who want to be more inclusive of people with different life experiences to their own.
It begin by finding out what is happening in churches across the diocese, who provides ministry to disabled people and how they encourage disabled people to respond to God’s call.
We also want to find out where Christians are engaged with groups that work in our local areas to support disabled people and how disabled people’s needs are integrated into local churches in their planning for mission, discipleship, worship and fellowship.
So what can you do to help…?
If you, or someone you care for, are deaf or disabled or have a life that is affected by long term physical or mental health conditions, please contact Tim to discuss how you might be able to help the Working Group.
This is especially true if you have an invisible disability as the current group is made up, largely of people who have problems with mobility and pain and wheelchair users.
If you are a member of a church community, or a deanery synod, Tim would like you to reflect on your expectations of deaf and disabled people in church.
Are they people who need to be cared for, or people who care for you? Are they disabled by their impairments, or by the expectations or limitations we as a church put on them? And how can we listen more to disabled people in our lives and have them lead us into discovering more about God.
Peter Robinson has been installed as the Dean of Derby in a service at Derby Cathedral.
In the service, Peter and his wife Sarah were formally welcomed by Bishop Libby and Peter promised to observe the constitution and statutes of the cathedral.
In his first sermon as dean, he spoke of the challenges faced by the church in the light of the coronavirus pandemic and other social issues.
He said: "I believe that the agenda for the Church's engagement with the weak and vulnerable in society has to be reset.
"Mental health matters, children who are at risk of harm, adults vulnerable to abuse, a growing consciousness of the message of the Black Lives movement, those whose jobs are at risk even in this very city - and add to this the obvious needs of many who inhabit the city centre - these are urgent concerns that coronavirus has laid bare before us and that need our attention.
"God is beckoning us to respond as a church."
The service, led by Bishop Libby, had a different feel to previous installations as social distancing measures meant that only a handful of people could be present.
It included pre-recorded welcomes from the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, William Tucker, and the head of Derby Cathedral School, Jenny Brown.
Peter was introduced to the cathedral by Christopher Nieper, who chaired the panel to appoint the new dean.
Before his appointment, Peter was the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne in the Diocese of Newcastle, a position he had held since 2008, with responsibility as chair of the Newcastle Diocesan Board of Education, as lead for community engagement in Northumberland, and for rural delivery of the diocesan vision.
Peter worked in the oil industry before being ordained in 1995; he trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham and served his curacy in North Shields.
Following his curacy, he became priest in charge at St. Martin’s, Byker - where he was highly successful in bringing together a challenging inner-city community, designing a new church building and attracting a visit from the home secretary to showcase the community’s achievement. He had also been director of the Urban Ministry and Theology project in Newcastle.
Peter said: "Sarah and I are delighted now to be living in Derby.
"The warm welcome we’ve received has been so much appreciated and we feel at home already!
"It is quite a moment to become Dean of Derby, with so many challenges to the church, not least as we re-open the cathedral for public worship and independent prayer under the necessary restrictions due to Covid-19.
"My priorities are to re-establish cathedral life and to create a range of digital services that meet peoples needs.
"I want to make as many relationships with decision-makers in the city as possible so that the cathedral can play its part in the recovery of the city’s economic, social and cultural life, and not just in Derby but beyond in Derbyshire and in the Diocese.
"A key priority for me will be to forge relationships with all the faith communities of Derby and their leaders, and to listen to their experience of Covid-19 and see how we can work together in partnership to support better those who are vulnerable as we find ways to support a recovery."
For church schools, one of the biggest challenges they have faced, aside the logistical problems of maintaining social distancing, has been not being able to hold daily, whole-school, collective worship.
This is a part of the school day that is at the heart of their school community.
Karen Scrivens, the headteacher at Langley Mill Church of England Infant School & Nursery said, “We have had to be very creative in order to continue delivering our special collective worship times within the confines of our school ‘bubbles’ and home learning.
Before the restrictions, music would welcome the children and staff, and set the tone for the worship and there would be a real sense of togetherness.
Collective worship is a very special and distinct part of the school day and I have really missed it.
However, we have used special poems, stories, drawings, photographs and anecdotes both in school and online to help us continue daily worship and reflect on our core values: Aspire, Learn, Respect and Serve.
Throughout we have remembered our school vision to ‘Always be our best for God, each other and ourselves.”
Plenty of positives
Karen said that the school has also had to be quite innovative in finding ways to seek full engagement of all families whilst learning at home.
She said: “We have had to be creative in our approach to reaching families within the home by increasing our social media and online profile and opening up new communication channels whilst also ensuring that families have been supported with resources to complete activities.”
The good news is that there are many positives to come out of the lockdown experience.
Although having to split classes into smaller bubbles and still deliver quality education both in school and at home has been no easy task, Karen is rightly proud of the way the whole school community has united to problem-solve, adapt and change.
She said: “Staff have no doubt increased their IT skills and have planned very carefully to meet the needs of pupils during this unknown time, in age-appropriate and sensitive ways.
The children have all adapted brilliantly and my whole staff team has been amazing.
They have gone over and beyond expectations, with lots of praise from parents and governors”.
Karen’s only great disappointment is that the school will be unable to bid its traditional farewell to the Year 2 pupils who are about to move on.
“Usually,” said Karen, “the end of the infant journey is a special time for our school, marked by a very poignant celebration and church visit.
"This is not possible in these times but we will still send our year twos off with a special goodbye.”
Revd Canon Paul Morris, principal chaplain in the Diocese of Derby, writes:
Voluntary workplace chaplaincy is a growing movement in Derbyshire, with more than 150 chaplains from many denominations serving in 15 locations and in 15 sectors.
Here are stories from two social care contexts during the pandemic:
Chaplains have supported staff and patients at a GP surgery in Ilkeston in the Erewash Primary Care Network.
Soon, there will be chaplains in all 13 Erewash surgeries.
One GP said: "These are very stressful times for everyone, but I am excited about the GP chaplaincy opportunities.
"God is sovereign in all these things. A retired GP who has been praying for our chaplains every week since they started asked how they and we as a team are doing so I shared feedback from patients.
"It has been really encouraging, my favourite quote is, 'Thanks for asking the chaplain to phone me. I didn’t realise what a heavy burden I was carrying until it had been lifted.'”
Hospitals in Ashbourne, Clay Cross, Ilkeston and Ripley created a new post of ward volunteer to liaise between patients and relatives, provide pastoral care and support staff.
Chaplains were appointed, and one wrote: "I was apprehensive, but I was given excellent training.
"The patients cannot have visitors so the opportunity to chat about their family and concerns has been a pleasure.
"I’ve met some extraordinary people, and every day has been different but I always leave the ward inspired by the patients and the hardworking staff.
"I was once explaining to a patient I couldn’t move her as, 'I am only a volunteer,' to which the nurse said, 'Never say that, you are not only a volunteer, you are very important here.'
"I was deeply touched by that comment and am so thankful I agreed to this role."
A daughter of one patient wrote to a ward volunteer: "You lifted Mum’s spirits when we were unable to see her. At times she was so low we wondered whether she would have any reserves to pull through but to know you were there caring and supporting her and liaising with us, was so appreciated by the family.
"For her to hear our messages and see the photos you printed off brought us closer to her as she knew we were there and missing her."
One matron wants ward volunteers to continue in the future because they get on with what is needed, are interactive with patients and have the experience and skills to effectively support patients and their families as well as integrate with ward staff.
These are stories of the church in action in the community, as our chaplains respond to the invitation to engage in faithful and fruitful ministry.
The National Health Service came into being on 5 July 1948.
This weekend, the diocese and country will celebrate and applaud those in the NHS who selflessly put their own lives at risk on a daily basis as they continue the fight against coronavirus and Covid-19, and those who died in that fight.
We will also remember and applaud those who fought so hard for us to have a National Health Service, and those whose work and dedication led to its formation.
This has a particular relevance in Derbyshire, of course, through Florence Nightingale - a true pioneer of her time.
Derbyshire's 'Lady with the Lamp' was passionate about improving conditions for the wounded during the Crimean War - and she devoted the rest of her life to reforming nursing care.
The seven critical-care Covid Hospitals have been named after Florence Nightingale, and a post-Covid rehabilitation facility named after Mary Seacole, both prominent figures in nursing history and role models in the NHS (see below).
As Bishop Rober Exon, chair of the Liturgical Commission, writes:
"During the current pandemic, there has been immense national and local support for the NHS and its front line workers.
"The emergence of the Thursday ‘Clap for Carers’ was a significant experience in the lockdown.
"Thanksgiving binds communities together, turning ‘I’ into ‘we’.
"The contribution of carers and key workers who have given of themselves sacrificially needs to be honoured.
"Sharing stories of people and events during the crisis is likely to form the kernel of any community celebration.
"Unsung heroes need to be applauded."
This document shares prayers and resources for the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
Mary Seacole was a pioneering nurse and heroine of the Crimean War, who as a woman of mixed race is today celebrated as an inspiration for the many BAME people who sustain our NHS. Born Mary Jane Grant in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805 to a Scottish soldier and Jamaican mother, Mary learned her nursing skills from her mother who kept a boarding house for invalid soldiers.
She was an inveterate traveller, and before her marriage to Edwin Seacole in 1836 visited other parts of the Caribbean, as well as Central America and Britain. On these trips, she complemented her knowledge of traditional medicine with European medical ideas.
In 1854 Mary approached the War Office, asking to be sent as an army nurse to the Crimea.
She was refused, but undaunted, funded her own trip to the Crimea where she established the ‘British Hotel’ near Balaclava for sick and convalescent officers. She also visited the battlefield, sometimes under fire, to nurse the wounded, and became known as ‘Mother Seacole’.
Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 into a wealthy family. In the face of their opposition, she insisted that she wished to train in nursing.
In 1853, she finally achieved her wish and headed her own private nursing institute in London.
Her efforts at improving conditions for the wounded during the Crimean War won her great acclaim and she devoted the rest of her life to reforming nursing care.
Her school at St Thomas’s Hospital became significant in helping to elevate nursing into a profession.
Dr Alison Brown, acting director of education, writes:
At the end of April I asked all 111 of our church schools to send me anything that they considered to be a sign of faith hope and love.
I kept hearing snippets of news of the sorts of things schools were doing to support the children and families in their care.
I wanted to build a montage to give an overview of the wonderful work that is going on in our Church schools that is evidence of some aspect of faith, hope and love.
Those snippets of news changed to a large and deeply humbling, encouraging and inspiring catalogue of creative and compassionate ways of showing God’s love.
On top of having to cope with new ways of living and working during the pandemic with all the added stress and demands, our school leaders and staff were finding ways of serving their school community so all could flourish.
They were tapping into their Christian vision and finding new ways to express it.
This has continued to the present time.
As lockdown measures lift and schools are able to welcome back more pupils into the building they are paying great attention to helping children feel safe, welcomed and secure.
This is evident from one of our infant schools using rainbows on the floor to make our social distancing.
The Head Teacher was concerned about the possibility of how sterile and scary school environments could become.
A member of staff came up with the idea of rainbow markings which of course are much more time consuming to mark out than the usual 2m stickers but “This is a familiar symbol to children and will help them to see that these markings are there because we love and care for one another…‘Follow the rainbow road’”.
So, thank you to all our school leaders and staff for being and showing signs of faith, hope and love.
Click the image below to follow the link:
Click the image below to follow the link:
Pippa, a Year 6 pupil at South Darley Church of England Primary School has become the first to receive a Bishop’s Badge award presented online.
The presentation was made at the school, with Pippa’s family and Bishop Libby joining via Zoom.
Pippa, who has been through a number of difficult times, was nominated by her school. Head Teacher Paul Wilde said that Pippa had held her head high, carried herself with dignity and remained positive throughout her challenging journey.
As he handed the award to Pippa on behalf of Bishop Libby, Mr Wilde said: “You value others, see the best in people and in life around you, and we are really proud of you.
“You are totally deserving of this award.”
He described her as “always kind to people, always smiling and always tries her best”.
Bishop Libby, who spoke to Pippa and her class on the video call, said: “We honour that Christian characteristic that you have embodied in your years at South Darley.
“We recognise the work of God in you and that you tell us something of Jesus.
“I hope that the badge and certificate will help remind you of just how well people regard you.”
Bishop’s Badge looks a little different this year because of the constraints of social distancing.
The schools awards for 2020 have been limited to pupils in Year 6 who are about to move on to senior school and the presentations are being made on line.
The Bishop’s Badge awards to adults will also take place virtually, later in the year, focussing on exceptional contributions to mission and ministry during the lockdown.
Bishop Libby looks on via Zoom as Pippa is presented with her Bishop's Badge and certificate
Whilst many churches have been using social media to engage with congregations, the Benefice of Crich and South Wingfield has been reaching out using smart speakers!
CSW Digital Church is the brainchild of parishioner Jim Morton (pictured with Revd Ian Whitehead).
He feels called by God to ordained ministry within the Church of England and is currently studying on the Diocese of Derby Discipleship Training Programme.
Jim currently manages the benefice’s social media ministry on Facebook and A Church Near You.
He created CSW Digital Church, using his own time, resources, creativity, and skills. What started as a hobby by teaching himself new online skills, has turned into a successful ministry.
This is an exciting new ministry under the guidance of Revd Ian Whitehead. CSW Digital Church represents and is part of the Benefice of Crich and South Wingfield.
Following the closure of our churches in April 2020, Jim felt that God had set him a task.
That task was to take the Gospel to our existing church community, and beyond.
He felt it was important to make prayer available to everyone and he was inspired by the ministry of Jesus.
CSW Digital started out as a YouTube channel but soon grew into a three-times-a-day prayer podcast on Soundcloud.
He then ventured into special services on Sundays.
Jim wanted to make the message of Jesus as accessible as possible during these difficult times so he learnt the skills needed to create an Amazon Alexa app.
Since April 2020, CSW Digital Church has had more than 1,500 listeners from all corners of the globe.
Currently, Jim is working on a project to build a children’s ministry, called CSW for Kids.
If you have an Alexa, give CSW Digital Church a try now. Just say “Alexa, open Digital Church”.
A massive clean-up operation is continuing as millions of people across northern India try to rebuild their lives following the devastation left by Cyclone Amphan.
Two weeks ago, many of our partner dioceses in North India, including the Diocese of Kolkata, were badly hit, with streets flooded and blocked by trees, church buildings and community projects devastated, and many people left homeless and without food and water.
The cyclone came on top of the challenges already being faced due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Many people in Kolkata earn their living as daily labourers, and have lost their livelihood because of the lockdown.
Children receiving education through diocesan and CRS schools are now at risk of being trafficked into child labour and child marriage.
The Diocese of Kolkata, in partnership with the Cathedral Relief Service has enabled a relief programme to reach out to the neediest people – 4,500 families have already been helped, but more help is needed in this desperate situation.
The ongoing lockdown, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, has affected the lives of some of the most vulnerable communities across the country, such as the dalits, migrant labourers, waste pickers, widows, elderly etc… both in rural and urban areas.
To cushion the impact of the crisis and to ensure access to essentials, the Church of North India’s Synodical Board of Social Services has been active in providing relief materials like cooked food and rations to the people in need, in the areas of Ajnala, Khemkaran, Kolkata, Barrackpore, Choitanagpur, Chimubeda, Ukanli Panchayat and Bano block as the first emergency response.
Face masks are being produced by the diocese of Kolhapur who are also running a community kitchen for migrant sugarcane workers stranded by lockdown.
The relief work will be followed by various rehabilitation initiatives to sustain the livelihood of the people in the near future.
Please pray for our sisters and brothers in the Church of North India.
For more information, about the general Covid-19 response within the Church of North India please visit http://cnisbss.org/ and for specific information about the situation in Kolkata and the impact upon our joint schools project please contact Anita Matthews (email@example.com) or Alison Brown (Alison.Brown@derby.anglican.org).
How you can help
If you are able to make a financial gift to support this emergency relief work in our link dioceses, then the details you need are:
- If your church already has a financial link with an affected diocese in India and you wish to donate, please do so using your existing means
Alternatively, you can donate via the Calcutta Cathedral Relief Fund (CRS):
CAF Bank Ltd
Sort Code 40-52-40
Account No: 00096998
Account Name: Friends of Calcutta Cathedral Relief Service
Please identify the purpose of your donation as “Covid-19 Appeal”.
Please keep our sisters and brothers in Kolkata in your thoughts and prayers.
A message from Bishop Paritosh, Bishop of Calcutta:
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
I thank you immensely for your prayers, care and concern for the people of Kolkata.
Your support so far has helped us in giving hope and smiles to 4500 families in the villages and slums where we work under the Diocese of Kolkata, CNI, in partnership with Cathedral Relief Service Calcutta (CRS).
At this moment we join you in prayers for strengthening our hands to do the work and mission of Christ. With many challenges facing us besides COVID-19 and now the cyclone affected people, we look forward to your prayerful support.
Our priorities in the light of Covid19 and the devastation wreaked by Cyclone Amphan
- Second phase of food supplies to poorest of the poor families.
- Rehabilitation for women and children to avoid a rise in child labour, trafficking and child abuse as result of this pandemic.
- Preventing youth being trapped into antisocial and criminal activities.
- Rehabilitation of homeless families.
- Providing livelihood programmes as a means of income generation for the families.
Please continue to pray for us.
Revd Beth Honey, Pioneer Minister of Derwent Oak Fresh Expressions Church, lights candles in her garden to unite the local community.
Our garden has always been an important place of gathering and encounter for Derwent Oak (Derby City).
It is a place we learned to ask for help more than offer it, in the early days of living in Derby as we asked our neighbours to a gardening party.
It is the place we first realised people would help us host a party, and come to one, when we had a bonfire.
But when we realised that we wouldn’t be able to meet again in homes, which is the heart of Derwent Oak, for many months, the garden began to speak again.
Could we open it, even in lock down?
So, we simply shared a thought on Facebook in our group and on the pages we host and are connected to.
Did anyone want us to light a candle on a Thursday evening, for someone or something that mattered to them that they had lost, whether or not due to Covid-19.
People have steadily asked us to do that, people we know, friends of friends online, connections through volunteering through the local Covid-19 response hub, and strangers connecting through social media.
We dream that slowly people may come to light candles as individuals and small groups, and have begun to commission some local artists to create pieces to enhance the garden as a place of encounter.
We hope to blend community on and offline.
Part of the story of this season is lament and grief that has been suppressed by circumstance, and part of the motivation of these candles is to find expression in a place where people often lack confidence to connect to church, even when the doors are open.
A simple invitation closer to home is perhaps what is needed, and outdoors may be a safe space for more reasons than we realise.
Starting a new job as the headteacher of a prominent city school midway through a pandemic is not what most would choose – but that’s exactly how things have worked out for Jenny Brown, the new head at Derby Cathedral School.
Jenny, who has worked in education for 22 years, was appointed to the post just before the country went into lockdown, so her first weeks and months in post will be particularly challenging.
Jenny said: “Yes – I have certainly picked my moment, haven’t I! Navigating through Covid will clearly be one of my main challenges as I continue to get to know everyone, but I am determined the pandemic will not stop the school in its aspiration to put quality at the heart of everything we do.
"And that’s not just in terms of academic achievement, but also in life education to set students up for whatever they choose to do next.
“My ambition is for every member of the school community to be the best that they can be and to fully embrace our FAITH values (fellowship, aspiration, integrity, tenacity, humility).
“The challenge is to remain focused on that ambition as the school grows, for everyone to have a clear understanding of the vision of the school and for this to be ‘felt’ and visible to all.
Jenny grew up in Bedfordshire before doing a maths degree at the University of Nottingham and making the city her home.
And she brings with her plenty of experience: “I have worked in Nottingham schools for over twenty years and have had various roles with increasing leadership responsibility.
“I have always taught maths, which is a subject that I dearly love, but have also taught a great deal of PSHCE and led both subjects for a number of years.
“Once I moved into senior leadership, I was asked to move to a school in Special Measures to help support its improvement.
"This was a seminal time in my career and gave me a real thirst for school improvement and development. I truly saw the impact that a school has on its whole community.
“I then moved to take up the headship of a new free school in Nottingham.
“Starting a new school is such a privilege, challenge and a responsibility. Having thoroughly enjoyed this process, I am delighted to bring my experience to Derby Cathedral School.
"The school is a fantastic community that is centered on providing the best possible education for young people.
“My balance of high expectations with focused support will enable the school to continue to grow in this vein.
“As it continues to develop and looks forward to moving to a new, state-of-the-art building, it is an incredibly exciting time for the school, and I am so pleased to be part of it.”
St Werburgh’s Church in Derby is launching an online course to help couples through this difficult lockdown period.
The free, seven-week course is designed to help couples strengthen their relationship.
We are all having to spend a lot more time with each other than we might normally do.
Couples are having to navigate the pressure of being with their partner day in day out, possibly home schooling, working from home or struggling financially through this season and this brings about obvious challenges.
Phil Mann, lead minister at St Werburgh’s said: “When the lockdown in Wuhan started to lift, the numbers of couples applying for divorce skyrocketed and St Werburgh’s hopes that this course will go some way to avoiding similar problems in Derby by helping couples across the city to invest in their relationships during this time.
“My wife and I have been married for 17 years and have done the marriage course twice now.
"It has really helped us; we have learnt so much and grown through it so we are offering this free of charge to anyone who feels like it might help them.”
The original Marriage Course was founded by the Revd Nicky and Sila Lee at Holy Trinity Brompton over 20 years ago and has helped more than 1 million people.
It is for anyone who is married or in a long-term relationship seeking practical support to strengthen their relationship, keep the spark alive and stay connected.
It has now been adapted for use online.
Over seven sessions, the course covers: Strengthening Connection, The Art of Communication, Resolving Conflict, The Power of Forgiveness, The Impact of Family, Good Sex and Love in Action.
A new episode is released each Monday evening.
The course is designed so that couples only have to talk to each other, so no one is going to ask them any personal questions. It is designed for everybody - it is not just for people who go to church, or for people whose relationships are in difficulties.
To sign up go to https://stwderby.org/marriagecourse
This week (10-16 May) is Christian Aid Week and this year it will be somewhat different.
Churches across the diocese are being invited to stand in solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people in new and innovative ways.
The coronavirus outbreak threatens the health of our neighbours near and far.
Together we must respond quickly to help the most vulnerable.
Coronavirus has shown us that our futures are bound more tightly together than ever before.
And now it is spreading across the world’s poorest countries, putting people living in poverty at great risk.
These people are already facing a lack of water, food and healthcare.
Some are homeless. Some are living with underlying health issues such as HIV.
As coronavirus infection rates speed up, they will feel the impacts of the virus deeply. We must respond now.
Coronavirus impacts all of us. But love unites us all.
Donations can be made via the website christianaid.org.uk or by telephone on 020 7523 2269.
Virtual prayer and reflections
Daily until Saturday 16 May at 11am
Live daily reflections from Christian Aid staff and partners overseas.
Christian Aid Community online
Daily until Saturday 16 May at 7.30pm
Daily fun quizzes for the whole family.
Hosted by Revd Kate Bottley, Dr Rowan Williams and Giles Fraser.
Put your thinking caps on for a pre-recorded quiz.
The Christian Aid Week website has a wealth of resources including:
- Order of service for virtual Christian Aid Week services
- Prayers in the time of coronavirus
- TV quiz
- Donation forms
- Children's activity sheet
Visit the Christian Aid Week website for more information, resources and to get involved.
The Rt Revd Libby Lane, the Bishop of Derby, has made her maiden speech in the House of Lords - and in doing so has become the first bishop to make their maiden speech virtually.
Bishop Libby spoke as part of a debate brought by the Most Revd John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, on the case for increasing income equality in the light of the recent health emergency (Covid-19).
In her allotted two minutes, Bishop Libby drew particular attention to the disproportionate and detrimental impact income inequality and lack of sustainability has on children and their households.
Bishop Libby said: "In this national time of emergency, we know there is much to be done to respond to every child, to keep all our children and young people safe, to support the mental health and well-being of our children, and to protect children and their families facing increased financial insecurity as a result of this crisis.
"The inequalities that affect the more than 4 million children in poverty in our country run deep and are systemic, so solutions need to be long-term and sustainable.
"When asked about the Kindom of God, Jesus brought among them and said 'Of such is the Kindom of Heaven'.
"I thank your Noble Lords for your patience in hearing my plea that we put children at the heart of our work for a more just and equitable, sustainable society."
Yesterday, the Church of England and the Child Poverty Action Group released a joint report ‘No one knows what the future can hold’, calling for the suspension of the two child limit in Universal credit.
In her speech, Bishop Libby also made reference to the work of The Children's Society and praised diocesan staff, clergy and congregations for their work during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Jennie Gill, a teacher from South Darley VC Primary School, reflects on a group of teachers and students in Derbyshire Church Schools with a shared concern for a community of Kolkata slum schools.
If you saw the recent film ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood’, a biopic with Tom Hanks playing America’s much-loved children’s TV presenter Fred Rogers, then you may recognise this quote:
"When I was a boy and I would see something scary in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
Our communities have come together in the last few weeks in ways that we have never seen before, with people running errands, making deliveries, chatting by telephone or even just smiling as we pass in the street so that no-one has to be alone in their isolation.
There are all those who are working in shops and factories to make sure that the rest of us have everything we need and the weekly applause for our healthcare workers to let them know that we see them and how much we appreciate them.
There is a particular group of teachers and students in Derbyshire Church Schools with a shared concern for a community of Kolkata slum schools.
As part of the Diocese of Derby’s long-term link with the Church of North India, a growing number of Derbyshire schools have been partnered with a Kolkata school, one of approximately 20 that are run and resourced by the Kolkata Cathedral Relief Service (CRS).
For the last five years we have visited them, worked with them, come to know and love their teachers and children.
Now in the midst of the pandemic we worry for them, especially because we know that so many of the measures we have put into place to keep ourselves safer will be impossible for them.
You may have seen a social media post from an Indian doctor who points out that to practise social distancing or to wash your hands more often, with soap in clean water, means that you have privileges not enjoyed by a large proportion of the world’s population.
It is those who were the poorest to begin with who are most at risk from this illness.
But here too, there are helpers. The CRS staff, led by Rig David, are always inspiringly creative and completely relentless in their mission to support the communities around them.
Gradually news is filtering through to the Derbyshire teachers about deliveries of food parcels, even to the most remote of the CRS projects, supported by the local police who have given permission for the CRS staff to make those journeys during the lockdown.
Some messages have arrived from individual Kolkata teachers to let us know that they are safe.
Many of us, and our schools, have donated to the emergency appeal set up by the Friends of CRS and sent our own messages of encouragement.
And each time a little snippet of news arrives it is shared excitedly around the network of Derbyshire teachers.
As we cheer on Rig and his team and continue to pray for them, we could not be more proud to be part of this global community and the work that God is doing here with the people we love.
The scary things in the news are going to carry on for a while but we are thankful for so many opportunities, even in lockdown, to be part of the much more powerful story of hope being written by all of God’s helpers around the world.