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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.”

Thursday, 09 July 2020 11:56

Chaplaincy in action during Covid

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:

GP surgery

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.'”

 

Hospital wards

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).

thank you NHS unsplash

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.

Wednesday, 01 July 2020 13:42

Schools share signs of faith, hope and love

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.

>> See pictures of the church schools' signs of faith, hope and love

signs of faith hope and love 2020 07 01 15.13

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.

signs of faith hope and love 2020 07 01 15.161

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.

signs of faith hope and love 2020 07 01 15.151

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.

thank you nhs in chalk at breadsall school

Click the image below to follow the link:

signs of faith hope and love 2020 07 01 15.16

Click the image below to follow the link:

signs of faith hope and love 2020 07 01 15.141

signs of faith hope and love 2020 07 01 15.142

Thursday, 25 June 2020 14:33

Bishop's Badge goes online

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

Bishop Libby looks on via Zoom as Pippa is presented with her Bishop's Badge and certificate

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 16:37

CSW reaches out on smart speaker

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”.

jim morton and revd ian whitehead

Wednesday, 03 June 2020 10:27

Devastation in Kolkata: can you help?

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.

>> More from BBC News

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 (anita@stpetersderby.org.uk) 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.

 Food distribution in the Diocese of Kolkata following Cyclone Amphan

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.

+Paritosh

Friday, 29 May 2020 15:37

God met us first in a garden

Revd Beth Honey, Pioneer Minister of Derwent Oak Fresh Expressions Church, lights candles in her garden to unite the local community.

She writes:

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.

candles in a garden

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