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Letter from Archdeacon Fred
In the event I was quite glad that the half-promised tickets never materialised. It would have been too painful to watch the humiliation of England at the Six Nations show-down in the Millenium Stadium in March. And it would have erased the memory of being there to see England win in 2011.
The steep tiers of the stadium create an electric atmosphere and the effect is multiplied when the roof is closed as it was that night. Sitting there before the match began I wistfully thought of the repertoire of hymns from the Welsh revival that such a fired up crowd would once have worked their way through. In 2011 however all we got was "Guide me O Thou great Jehovah" after working our way through a complete repertoire of the "hymns" of Tom Jones. Well ... at least Delilah was a character in the Bible.
Most powerful renewal and revival movements have produced their own distinctive hymns and songs. In the eighteenth century for instance the Methodists had Charles Wesley turning out passionate hymns by the score and we are still singing some of them, like "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," "And can it be," and "Love Divine." It has often been said that the early Methodists imbibed their theology more from Charles Wesley's hymns than from the Bible or John Wesley's sermons.
Hymns and songs reach parts that may be left untouched by preaching. Music can stretch beyond rational thought processes and finger the spirit. It can also be a subversive medium, and advertisers have learnt to harness its subliminal powers, using pop "hymns" of the 60s and 70s to target the grey pound.
It was with some interest therefore that I read of the discovery of a Chartist hymnbook. The Chartists were a mainly secular, working class movement pressing for political reform who were something of a force for a while in the middle of the nineteenth century. Just outside Bromsgrove is the village of Dodford which they created and it stands as a reminder of their ideals.
The established Christian churches opposed their demands for such changes as the right of everyone to vote, a secret ballot, payment for MPs so that poorer people can serve, and constituencies of equal size. Their outlook was "that it was wrong for a Christian to meddle in political matters" - an attitude that has a familiar ring. These changes were only achieved long after the Chartists were a spent force, crushed by the government in 1848.
But there were Christian Chartists who had no interest in keeping religion out of the public sphere and wrote hymns to get their message across such as :
Shall victim after victim fall
A prey to cruel class-made laws?
Forbid it Lord! On Thee we call
Protect us and defend our cause.
I doubt if any Chartist hymns will make it into the next edition of Hymns Old and New or be sung in the Millenium Stadium as times have moved on. But the need to sing with fervour of God's love and justice, freedom and compassion in the times in which we live will never go away.
Nine candidates will be ordained over the weekend of 29 and 30 June to serve in parishes across the diocese. Three candidates will be ordained priest on Saturday afternoon. They have completed a year with a parish and will now be able to preside at the Holy Communion. A further six candidates will be ordained deacon on Sunday morning and will enter their first year of training as a curate. Those being ordained are:
- Tom Fish to serve at Christchurch in Lye
- Carey Saleh to serve in Bromsgrove
- Bridget Woodall to serve in Brierley Hill
- Peter Davies to serve at All Saints in Worcester
- Nick Daw to serve in the Worcester South East Team
- Barbara Wheatley to serve in the Bowbrook Group of parishes
- Richard Bubbers who serves in Ipsley
- Hazel Charlton who serves in the Worcester South East Team
- Richard Tweedy who serves in the Worcester West Rural Team Ministry
Please pray for all the candidates and the parishes in which they will serve and also all those who are involved in the ordination service itself.
Archdeacon Fred to move on
Fred has decided to step down from the role of Archdeacon of Dudley after twelve years in post. He will be retiring from full-time ministry at the end of September to take up a part-time pastoral role as Priest-in-Charge of Christ Church, Brittany, France.
Fred has been a vicar in the diocese since 1988, serving as vicar of Brockmoor and Chaplain at Russell's Hall as well as Rural Dean of Kingswinford before becoming Archdeacon. His new role in Brittany will be part of a chaplaincy mostly serving English and English-speaking people. He will look after three places of worship in central Brittany and he and his wife Margaret are likely to be based in the town of Ploermel.
Fred said: "It is with very mixed feelings that I look forward to the next chapter in my life and ministry. It has been a great privilege to work in the diocese of Worcester, and I have received a huge amount from all my excellent colleagues, lay and ordained. I will miss the warmth of the support and friendship that has been offered from so many quarters. The Brittany appointment however provides an opportunity for Margaret and me to take on new challenges, at a different pace, and we are looking forward to the adventure."
Bishop John said: "Fred has been an exemplary Archdeacon of Dudley and I am one among very many people in this diocese and beyond who owe him a great debt of gratitude. We shall be very sorry to lose him, but rejoice with him at this exciting new appointment and pray that God will bless him and Margaret richly in their new life in Brittany."
Fred's move to Brittany is subject to completion of the usual safeguarding arrangements. The Bishop of Worcester will shortly be convening a small group of people, drawn largely from the Bishop's Council, to advise on the vacancy which will result from Fred's departure.
The Royal Three Counties Show
The Three Counties Show, taking place from 14-16 June, has been granted ‘Royal' status this year and is now one of the biggest livestock shows in the country. Serving the Counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, the show can trace its roots back over 200 years.
The Church tent at the show has evolved considerably in recent years and is now a rich collaborative enterprise between the Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester dioceses. It is located on the ‘village green' at the heart of the show and the planning group, which includes representatives from all three dioceses, has worked hard to ensure that the Church's presence is as effective as possible.
Archdeacon Roger says: "This is a great opportunity for the church to reach out to the 100,000 people who come to the show as well as show our solidarity with those who work in agriculture and farming during what has been a very difficult time. We'll be offering chaplain support, activities for children, entertainment in the form of our church school choirs, busking vicars and Greenbelt regulars Folk On and a chance to see Hereford's stone masons in action. And this year, we'll also be serving the best coffee at the show!"
If you're planning a trip to the Three Counties Show this year, please do come and visit the Church Tent!
Enough Food for Everyone IF
What brings about real change in the world? When the eight most traditionally economically powerful world leaders gathered in Edinburgh in 2005 it was people of faith and no faith uniting that brought the issues of debt relief, aid and trade justice into focus. On 15 and 16 June, the G8 meet in the UK again and it is people's prayer and action that will challenge them to take concrete action to tackle global hunger.
One in eight people live with the pain of hunger. And yet our planet provides enough food for everyone. It's unfair, it's unjust, and it's totally preventable. The UK hosting of the G8 gives us the opportunity to push world leaders to end this injustice. This year over 100 organisations have come together to form the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF' campaign which challenges world leaders to tackle issues which impact on people's ability to feed themselves.
The four issues requiring action are tax dodging by big companies, secrecy around companies' deals with governments in poor countries, land grabs which force poor people off their land and governments keeping their aid promises.
Please pray for the G8 leaders gathering in Northern Ireland that they will hear the voices of the poorest and that more churches and church leaders will be inspired to join this call for justice.
New role for the Bishop of Worcester
Buckingham Palace has announced that Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Bishop John to be the next Lord High Almoner. This office has been held by the Bishop of Manchester (until his retirement in January) since 1997 and dates from at least the early twelfth century. The Lord High Almoner's chief responsibility is to oversee the liturgical arrangements for the Royal Maundy Service, which is where The Queen distributes ‘Maundy Money', a small number of silver coins symbolically representing alms to the poor. Bishop John said of his appointment: "I am honoured to take on this ancient role which is the Queen's personal appointment. I shall be responsible for the Royal Maundy service which is a wonderful reminder each year that the ideal of Christian service lies at the heart of the monarchy, an ideal which Her Majesty the Queen has embodied so wholeheartedly in her devoted service to her people for over sixty years."
The Royal Maundy service used to take place in London but early in her reign The Queen decided that the service should take place at a different cathedral every year. The Queen has distributed Maundy on all but four occasions since coming to the throne in 1952. Today's recipients of Royal Maundy, as many elderly men and women as there are years in the sovereign's age, are chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and community. During the Service, officers of the Royal Almonry escort the Queen to those who are to receive the Royal Maundy gifts. The Lord High Almoner wears a linen towel round his waist symbolizing the foundations of the ritual by Jesus who chose to wash the feet of his disciples as an act of humility.
Last year's Maundy Money was distributed at York Minster in a very special ceremony to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Each diocese was asked to send a representative and Roy Peacock, Reader at St. Mary's, Oldswinford was chosen from Worcester Diocese. Roy said: "I was delighted to be chosen for the work I have done for the diocese - I was a member of Diocesan Synod as far back as 1970 and have served on numerous diocesan and deanery committees. My abiding memory is of how happy the Queen was - at the age of 85 she was beaming the whole time she gave out the coins. It was the best part of the whole thing and much appreciated. We were given 86p - because Queen celebrated her 86th birthday later in the year - the coins were all especially minted for the occasion. It was emphasised that the money was not from the church or the state, but was the Queen's personal gift. I left the Minster with a deep feeling of exhilaration and pride: exhilaration, because I had been present at an uplifting spectacle of pageantry, praise and glory, and pride at the Church's continuing mission to serve the community and the whole of society."
Alongside helping to organising the service on Maundy Thursday, the Royal Almoner also gives the Royal Maundy lecture. The lecture contains a history of the service, explanations of the symbolism and a chance for people to question the Lord High Almoner. Those who will receive the Maundy Gifts from the Queen are especially invited to it - but it is open to all.
Firm Foundations is a FREE gap year and training programme for 18-24 year olds by Action Centres UK. It is for those looking for a gap year, or for those who are looking for a career in the outdoor adventure and indoor sports and leisure industry. The year places people in the role of a ‘Trainee Activity Instructor' at one of our three centres - in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Northamptonshire.
During the year, trainees are housed and fed for free, and are not charged for anything. They are also paid £50 per week spending money - which can be spent on trips, days out, or saved.
Qualifications are from nationally recognised bodies and are chosen to be useful to the industry. For example, rather than a theoretical qualification, participants can gain qualifications with the British Canoe Union, Grand National Archery Society and many more. Further to the qualifications there will be optional Christian training available to volunteers.
There is also a 2nd year option available to successful applicants. This year offers a twelve-month full time salaried contract where trainees become instructors in their own right.
For the 2013/14 year we are currently recruiting 22 Trainee Activity Instructors - however we will shortly be opening applications for the 2014/15 year.
For further information and to apply visit http://www.ff-training.org.uk/ or call Tom Nicholson on 01604 499 699.
Christian Aid in Bolivia
If you wish to use an image with your article, please go to www.caweek.org/article and download either, or both, of these images:
Bolivia - Elmy Ymarnarlico with her woolless sheep (Credit: Christian Aid/Hannah Richards)
Bolivia - Elmy Ymarnarlico pruning a cocoa tree (Credit: Christian Aid/Rachel Stevens)
‘We work together, we share the land'
This Christian Aid Week, we're standing with poor communities to help them bite back at hunger. If a community has land to live on and farm, it can provide enough food for its people. In the Beni region of Bolivia, one community faces a much more secure future, thanks to a Christian Aid partner organisation helping them acquire land rights, previously under dispute for decades.
When Elmy Ymarnarlico lists the things that she is most proud of, her woolless sheep and chickens come in close to the top. But it is the sense of ownership of her homeland that has really changed Elmy's life.
Elmy lives in the community of Alta Gracia, deep in the Bolivian rainforest. But despite making up the majority of the population, indigenous communities like Elmy's have struggled for years to have reliable access to their own land.
Threats and intimidation from prospective landlords were common, and many fathers and young people left to search for work elsewhere because they couldn't make a living from their land. This left families to struggle with the other perils of drought, floods, forest fires and hunger.
Christian Aid partner Centre for Research and Training of Peasants (CIPCA) has since helped to secure land for more than 1,000 families.
CIPCA has also given the community training in crop diversification and how to improve their harvests. It has provided woolless sheep to breed from, sell on and eat, and chickens to produce eggs to eat and sell.
Now the men can stay and farm their own land without the threat of cattle ranchers and big businesses taking it, and people like Elmy can provide more nutritious diets for their families.
There is now a future for young people, too. ‘We are now the owners of our land... we work the land together, we share the land,' Elmy explains.
The community of Alta Gracia has also discovered the value of the wild cocoa trees around them, thanks to CIPCA. Owned by the whole community, the trees are now lovingly looked after. Locals work in protective clothing provided by CIPCA, and CIPCA buys the cocoa from them for a fair price.
‘CIPCA helped so much,' Elmy says. ‘It has got people inspired to look after, protect and get the best from the cocoa trees.'
£125/€155 could provide one male and two female woolless sheep to a community in Bolivia, providing them with meat when food is scarce and income when lambs are sold.
One in eight people in the world are desperate for food. Bite back at hunger and show your support for Christian Aid Week (12-18 May) at www.caweek.org/article
Bite Back at Hunger
Christian Aid Week 12-18 May 2013
‘It's very rewarding to know that Christians of different traditions are working together for one common aim during Christian Aid Week.' Christian Aid Week volunteer
Thousands of churches will stand together this Christian Aid Week to speak out for change. Some 100,000 committed volunteers will go out and put their faith into action, raising funds to help some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people.
This includes Britain's largest house-to-house collection, an extraordinary act of witness - demonstrating to our communities that we care about ending poverty and injustice.
There is enough food for everyone in the world, but one in eight people will go to bed hungry tonight.
This year's Christian Aid Week tells the story of how Christian Aid is helping communities to bite back at hunger through the lens of land rights in Bolivia, new technology in Kenya and innovative agriculture in Zimbabwe.
You can support Christian Aid Week by looking out for local events, and discover how you can be involved by contacting your local Christian Aid Week representative or by visiting www.caweek.org/article
Church buildings - welcome the visitors and tourists
Parishes across the diocese are being encouraged to think about how they might improve the visitor welcome and interpretation of their church buildings. Andrew Mottram, Heritage Buildings and Community Development Officer explains why this is important.
"Church buildings are everywhere in the English landscape. They are sacred spaces in cities, towns, villages and the remotest rural places. They are sacred spaces in the landscape. They bear witness even when empty of people.
So how the buildings look, how they feel and whether they are open and accessible are significant factors in their witness. Statistics show churches are of significant interest to all manner of visitors - over 75% of the British population has been inside a church in the last 12 months.
Take time to walk into and around your church building with the eyes of a visitor who may know little about the faith or is searching but hasn't yet found what they are looking for. Ask yourself, "What does this building say? What impression does it give? How clean? How tidy? What is all this stuff for? Does it speak of people? Does it provide space for reflection and openness to ask questions?" Look out for training planned in different churches during April and May which will help you to do this."
Lord God of all, as Disciples of Christ and People of the Way, may both our hearts and our church buildings be open to visitors. May we be generous in our welcome; offering peace, support and nourishment to those who journey and those who are searching. As Jesus came to give life in all its fullness, may our buildings be sources of life and inspiration bearing witness to the welcome and generosity of Gospel.
All Churches are being encouraged to open their doors and plan to do something during Heritage Weekend on 14 and 15 September - visit www.cofe-worcester.org.uk/festival-of-churches for more information.