Where Do We Go From Here? Being Church of England in a changing world

Talk given to the On Fire Mission Conference 2017 @onfiremission #OFM2017

Are you ready? To the tune of Onward Christian Soldiers! Let’s sing it together:

Like mighty tortoise

Moves the Church of God;

Sisters we are treading

Where we’ve always trod.

There’s more than a grain of truth to the parody. Here we are, thinking about how the church can be renewed in its ministry and mission to a changing world – and it’s 34 years since John Tiller published his Strategy for the Church’s Ministry, 10 years since Pete Pillinger and Andrew Roberts introduced the idea of a Changing Church for a Changing World to English Methodism, and 8 since after a clutch of Anglican authors including On Fire favourite Paul Bayes wrote on the Mission-Shaped Parish: Traditional Church in a Changing World. Four of those authors are now bishops, so that’s alright then, but it does say something about the mainstreaming nearly two generations on of ideas that in Tiller’s time seemed a prophetic voice from the wilderness – but still the weighty machinery of the institutional church seems to struggle to catch up with the very vision that it is trying to inhabit. Not a few of you will be here precisely because you need all the help and support you get to stay On Fire in a world of soggy bottoms. And with God’s help, the fire will run, because his creating, renewing Spirit is the same yesterday, today and for ever, and will never give up on us, his beloved, the body of Christ.

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Individually guided retreats at Shepherd’s Dene

Further to my recent post on the “Footsteps” retreat I am leading at Shepherd’s Dene in October (https://bpdt.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/footsteps-retreat-at-shepherds-dene/), the Warden Jane Easterby tells me that there are also 3 spaces left for people who want make an individually guided retreat from Monday 17th July at 5pm to Friday 21st at 3pm. The price is £310.

An experienced spiritual director will accompany you on a silent, guided retreat, meeting with you daily in a one-to-one session to help reflect on and examine the ways in which God is working in your life. There will be time for quiet reflection in the peaceful surroundings of Shepherds Dene.

To book ring 01434 682 212 on weekdays between 9.30 and 4pm or e-mail the Warden, Jane Easterby on jane@shepherdsdene.co.uk
Shepherds Dene
Riding Mill
NE44 6AF

Stories Worth Sharing


Reaching Young People with the Gospel in South East London
Capt Nicholas Lebey  Church Army Evangelist, became a Christian aged 14 in his native Ghana. He’s now a pioneer youth evangelist in Thamesmead. He shares his vocation story.
Read the blog:
Lent and Easter on Social Media
The Christian message reached millions of people this year thanks to the support from the CofE’s churches who joined our national social media campaign. Adrian Harris, Head of Digital Communications at the Church of England, provides a birds-eye view, as well as top tips for churches to reach more people on social media.
Read the blog:
Bishop Paul Bayes celebrates vocations ahead of Vocations Sunday

Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, shares his own vocation story and how for him there is nothing better to do than to get along side people in their need and in their joy.
Watch the film:

Footsteps retreat at Shepherd’s Dene


I’m leading a week’s retreat again at lovely Shepherd’s Dene up in Hadrian’s Wall country from Mon 23rd – Thurs 26th October. My last one two years ago was a sell-out and the warden tells me that already there are just 4 places left for this one – so BOOK NOW! It’s always nice to have some familiar faces there with us (Jean is coming too).

We’ll be following in the footsteps of Jesus, looking afresh at the Gospel stories in the Scriptures, in art, and in their setting in the Holy Land. There will be plenty of time to pray, to walk, to write, and to make your own art too (bring your own materials).

To book ring 01434 682 212 on weekdays between 9.30 and 4pm or e-mail the Warden, Jane Easterby on jane@shepherdsdene.co.uk
Shepherds Dene
Riding Mill
NE44 6AF

£250 all-in

Little Gidding Pilgrimage 20th May

clip_image001Time marches on and soon it will once again be the annual Pilgrimage to Little Gidding. It’s on Saturday 20 May and will be led by Canon Tim Alban Jones and Dr Bridget Nichols. Full details are at www.littlegidding.org.uk/pilgrimage. To help us with the organization and catering please do let the Friends of LG know if you plan to come – it also helps to have advance payment for lunch and tea. It’s still possible just to turn up on the day, so don’t let this put you or your friends off. More copies of the flyer are available, or you can download it (and a poster) from www.littlegidding.org.uk.

Today we pray

Today we suffer with our sisters and brothers who have experienced losses in London, in Stockholm, and as well as those who continue to suffer on a daily basis across the Middle East. We pray for them and their families as well as their suffering and struggling communities.

We pray for His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and all our Coptic clergy in Egypt who continue to serve their spiritual children faithfully and diligently at a time in which their leadership and pastoral care is needed by our whole community. We also pray for our Coptic Orthodox sisters and brothers who continue to be resilient in the face of ongoing and escalating attacks, and who resist the urge to react vengefully or reciprocally. 

Bishop Angaelos


GIVING FOR LIFE: A Quiet Day on discipleship, generosity, and making a difference

GfL-coverNow open to all interested parishioners!

Saturday 27th May
10.00am – 3.00pm
St Mary’s Church Ely

No charge but please bring your own lunch or eat out in Ely

It is part of our Ely2025 planning to give as much support as possible to our local parishes and fresh expressions, benefices and deaneries, chaplaincies and groups as they pray to deepen, grow and engage as visible and generous people of Jesus Christ.

Getting to grips with the challenges of financing our work with and for God is part of that – but it is one we face in the context of deepening our life as disciples, and of our whole response in generosity to our generous God, as we seek to use all we are and have been given to make a difference for good in the world He has made.

So this day will face the issue of “Dethroning Mammon” (as Archbishop Justin puts it) head-on, but alongside other teaching on the Christian life, worship and time to reflect on the particular decisions and actions we each need to take.

Please book your places  with Bishop David’s office on bishop.huntingdon@elydiocese.org.