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.
Derby Cathedral has announced The Venerable Peter Robinson as the next Dean of Derby.
Peter is currently the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne in the Diocese of Newcastle, a position he has held since 2008.
There, he holds 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 has also been director of the Urban Ministry and Theology project in Newcastle before his current role.
Peter said: “I feel honoured to have been appointed Dean of Derby. I look forward to working with new colleagues and to engaging with the all Derby Cathedral’s stakeholders in the city, across Derbyshire, the whole diocese and beyond.
“I am only too aware that my arrival coincides with a time when we are having to imagine new ways of worshiping and relating to each other as Christian people.
“My hope and prayer is that we will be able to reimagine the life of our cathedral in the years to come, to deepen its local impact and to serve the communities and parishes of the diocese.”
He will take up his new position in the summer, as the coronavirus restrictions allow.
The Right Reverend Libby Lane, the Bishop of Derby, said: “I am delighted to welcome Peter as Dean of Derby. He is a man of inspiring faith, with a remarkable breadth of ministerial and professional experience. Peter is someone with a combination of deep love for people and place, and the capacity to think and act with strategic clarity. I look forward to working with him in the city and across the diocese.
“We are very blessed that God has called him to serve among us. I ask you to join me in praying for Peter and Sarah as they prepare to move, and for ourselves as we seek God’s Kingdom together.”
The news was also welcomed by the Bishop of Newcastle, The Right Revd Christine Hardman: “Peter Robinson has served the Diocese of Newcastle as Archdeacon of Lindisfarne with outstanding dedication, and I am delighted that the Church has discerned God’s call on him to be Dean of Derby, he will be a blessing to the Diocese of Derby. His contribution to the senior leadership team and to the life of the Diocese of Newcastle over the last twenty-five years has been significant, and deeply appreciated. Peter will be greatly missed, and he and Sarah leave us with our love and prayers as they move to Derby.”
Peter is married to Sarah, and they look forward to making the family home in Derby. They have two sons in their late 20s, Charles and Richard. In his spare time Peter will be found in the arts and cultural areas of Derby, or reading contemporary fiction, or listening to all types of music. Otherwise, you will see him on his mountain bike, at Derbyshire County Cricket Club, at Pride Park or even trying to improve his golf!
Peter joins Derby Cathedral at a time when the Cathedral's place at the heart of the community, responding to the present crisis, is more important than ever.
The Cathedral has developed new ways to reach and engage with people and is looking forward to continuing that and to being able to reopen as a gathering place and a focus of meaning for the people of Derby and Derbyshire.
In the building there are exciting plans for reshaping the interior as a place of worship and a community hub, for refurbishment of the Compton organ to further the Cathedral's role as a centre of excellence for music-making, and for using digital technology to help visitors discover the historical and spiritual riches of the Cathedral.
Derby Cathedral School will be starting its third year when the new dean arrives, and Peter will continue to build the relationship of both the cathedral and the school with the city.
There is much about the future that is hard to predict but Peter's role will be pivotal in the future of the cathedral and the city of Derby.
Youth bell ringing at Old Brampton has been 'highly commended' by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART).
The young ringers were nominated for the Sarah Beacham Youth Group Award, for youth groups who are successfully recruiting, retaining and developing young ringers, at an awards ceremony in March.
They were awarded a prize of £200 to be spent on benefitting youth ringing at Old Brampton.
The young ringers take part in local and national ringing events, as well as enjoying ringing at Old Brampton and at other towers in Derbyshire.
Tower Captain Sue Hall said: "I am so proud of the young ringers for this achievement.
"The judges were particularly impressed that the youngsters included ringing in their school projects and presentations, and that they continue to enjoy ringing at university and take part in ringing events across the country."
As well as being fun, ringing provides confidence and builds teamwork and leadership skills.
One ringer, Ruby, said: "It makes me feel happy, it's different from anything else I do, and I enjoy seeing my friends."
Whilst another, Rowan, added: "There are loads of opportunities to try different things in different places with your friends."
A flexible approach to attendance allows the young people to pursue other activities as well as ringing.
Ringers from Old Brampton who are now at university also enjoy the friendship and support of their university ringing societies.
The young ringers have been voting to decide how the award money should be spent to benefit youth ringing at Old Brampton.
Ringing at Old Brampton will resume in due course, including lessons for any young person or adult who wishes to give it a try.
What the young ringers said:
Ruby: 'It makes me feel happy, it's different from anything else I do, and I enjoy seeing my friends.'
Rowan: 'There are loads of opportunities to try different things in different places with your friends.'
Joseph: 'It's like one big family.'
Tom: 'I enjoy ringing at church and in the wider ringing community.'
Lucy: 'I like learning new methods.'
Alice: 'I enjoy being part of a group and progressing my knowledge of ringing.'
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
Updated 27 April 2021
Holding of APCMs:
The National Church stated last week that the Government’s legislation for what is allowed from 12 April 2021 in phase 2 of the lifting of restrictions does not permit physical meetings to be held in churches or other buildings, apart from for the purposes of communal worship or for the provision of essential voluntary or charitable services.
Physical PCMs/APCMs must not, therefore, be held before 17 May 2021. Ones which are to be held wholly by virtual means are able to go ahead. If this causes you a problem, please contact your Archdeacon as soon as possible to discuss what should be done.
Up to date Guidance Documents
Covid-19 Permitted Activities under National 'Step' Regulations
Added 12 April 2021
Government guidance states that, from 12 April 2021, communal worship is permitted provided that any person attending is alone or part of a group all from the same household or from two linked households and must not join any other group or mingle with any person from another group.
For churches planning to re-open, a risk assessment must be carried out and all reasonable measures taken to limit risk of transmission ofcoronavirus.
- Weddings – up to 15 people are allowed for weddings held in church. This figure does not include clergy or those present to carry out a duty (warden / organist etc).
- Funerals – up to 30 people are allowed for funerals held in church.
- Baptisms may be held as part of communal worship, but private services may not yet be held.
Note - clergy or those present to carry out a duty (warden / organist etc) or not included in this number.
Parent and child groups (i.e., groups for the benefit of children under 5) are permitted to meet indoors or outdoors (but not in a private dwelling) provided the gathering consists of no more than 15 persons (not counting any child under 5).
Update on Singing
Added 12 April 2021
A single small group of singers - whether amateur or professional - will be allowed to perform, or rehearse for performance, only where essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible. Communal singing should not take place and strict physical distancing should be observed.
When communal worship takes place in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the Performing Arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow physical distancing rules.Communal singing in other public open spaces should not take place. From 29 March 2021, the new social contact limits apply, meaning the Rule of 6 applies unless all involved are from the same household or 2 linked households.
Dispensation from holding services
Added 12 April 2021
Churches that had previously been granted dispensation from holding normal services until the end of March have been told that this has now been extended up to and including 16 May 2021.
A reminder that if you wish to reopen a church for private prayer or Sunday worship before 16 May 2021 then you must look again at your risk assessments and, if any changes are made, send to the
relevant archdeacon for approval.
APMs and APCMs
Added 12 April 2021
The guidance document for holding APMs and APCMs during Covid-19 restrictions has been updated - please see the new version here.
The deadline for holding APMs and APCMs has been extended to 30 June 2021 with visitations taking place by the end of September. This should give parishes a degree of flexibility if they would prefer to hold their APCM once lockdown restrictions should have been eased.
Confirmation that it is quite in order to hold APCMs this year by zoom, as was allowed last year.
The Registry will aim to update the guidance that was prepared last autumn, and it will be added to the website.
More information can be found here.
Read some of the advice about recording video material and live streaming here.
View our list of forthcoming live-streams in the diocese.
We have received a number of queries about the delivery of parish magazines, pew sheets, etc. The advice from the national CofE 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.