We held a very successful Ladies Lunch with the Right Reverend Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport and former curate of our parish, as our guest speaker. Good food,fellowship and a wonderful speaker made for a very enjoyable few hours.
Our photograph shows our future curate Joanne Macholc, the Bishop, Libby Lane a past curate and Rev. Cath Brooks another former curate of our parish.
On Thursday 7th January our vicar, Rev Arun John ,was installed as Area Dean by the Bishop of Blackburn in a service at St James’ Church. There were many visiting clergy and an Asian Christian choir joining the celebration. The service was well attended by members of the congregation from St Stephen’s as well as St James’. It was a very proud day for us and for our vicar. It is an honour and a privilege for him to be given such a prestigious position. We wish him well in this new role.
Diocesan Synod 18 October 2014
The Bishop of Blackburn
Where are we heading?
Having done a great deal of listening and learning during my first year as Bishop of Blackburn, including listening to the outcome of the Reshaping Ministry for Mission conversations, I believe that the time has come to lay out a vision. My hope is that this will become our shared vision, and that it will give us a clear sense of direction over the 12 years to 2026 – the hundredth birthday of the Diocese. I am convinced that we need to embark on radical change. We need to reinvent ourselves for the 21st Century. Anything less will leave us to wither away (rather like the once mighty Lancashire cotton industry). A few tweaks and adjustments will not suffice. The proposed vision is summed up in the statement Healthy Churches Transforming Communities. What makes for a healthy church? Imagine one in which the congregation
- Are wholehearted disciples, living Christ-like lives in healthy fellowship with each other;
- Take the biblical revelation seriously;Meet together for prayer;
- Support purposeful and focussed leadership;
- Promote children’s and youth work;
- Are flexible about patterns of worship including our celebration of the Eucharist and are good at welcoming visitors;
- Make the most of the opportunity of baptism preparation and follow-up;
- Plan to grow new congregations;
- Engage in meeting the needs of the community;
- Work collaboratively with neighbouring churches;
- Unashamedly seek to bring others to faith in Christ;
- Provide an income that meets expenditure;
Imagine a healthy church that attracts rather than drives people away and so transforms the communities where we live…. How might we re-invent ourselves to become that sort of healthy church, transforming
- Renew our understanding of being disciples of Jesus;
- Return to the Gospel of the Scriptures;
- Regain a ministry of intercession;
- Re-equip our lay and ordained leaders for today’s missional context;
- Reinvest heavily in youth and children’s ministry;
- Rethink our service patterns;
- Revamp our baptism preparation and follow-up;
- Reproduce congregations;
- Respond to the needs of and make a difference to the local community;
- Redraw our deanery maps;
- Recover confidence in the Gospel for the urgency of evangelism;
- Release the necessary funds for mission
What happens next?
Today is a chance to hear the vision and have an initial conversation. Over the next three months I would ask that you think and pray about it. Send your observations in to firstname.lastname@example.org. With my leadership team I will reflect on those observations and refine the vision. I will then bring it to Diocesan Synod in January 2015 for debate and decision by us together, the bishop in synod. After that there will be plenty of work to be done on sharing the vision around the deaneries and parishes and on how it can be implemented in practice.
Bishop Julian, as part of his exercise to know the clergy and laity in different deaneries in Blackburn Diocese, had offered three days from 7th to 9th September to meet different clergies in the deanery of Blackburn with Darwen.
So on 8th September Bishop Julian spent about two hours with our vicar Arun to understand our mission and ministry in the United Benefice of St. Stephen’s and St. James Blackburn. After an hour of sharing they both spent time together in prayer at the side chapel of St. James’ Blackburn. The evening concluded with dinner (South and South East Asian meal) cooked by Arun as Bina is still in India.
Arun writes, ‘Bishop Julian is a passionate Christian with a zeal to communicate the Gospel of Jesus to people of different faiths or no faith in the Diocese. I found him to be a leader with a vision to build the confidence of both laity and ordained ministers to live for Christ and share their joyful Christian testimony with their neighbours offering them hope and assurance of God’s loving care in Jesus Christ.’
We pray that God may continue to lead and guide Bishop Julian