Getting Friendly at St Clement’s Outwell

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It was very encouraging to be at a well-attended Special General Meeting last night of the Friends of St Clement’s Church, Outwell, home of the famous roof carvings. The meeting was needed for housekeeping purposes, but it took the opportunity to discuss the upcoming project to install a loo and mini-kitchen – vital accessories for the open church of today! Schemes like this in sensitive ancient churches are never easy, but it looks as if an application will be going in very soon for the permissions and grants in aid that are needed. Keep in touch via the website at

Mission Ahoy!

2015-09-29 13.55.57Ely Diocese’s exciting new Mission Team gather for a time of encouragement after a morning of team-building with Ruth Adams, together with members of the diocesan Mission Council. Rachael is there for youth and local mission project grants, Ed for young adults and Fresh Expressions, Debbie for work with children and families, Fiona is on the case with World Mission, and we are looking to recruit a final team member who will develop school chaplaincy. Jes Salt had to slip away to minister at funeral, but is holding the ring for social engagement such as foodbanks and credit unions, and Jane is Spirituality Adviser – all under Peter’s leadership of course. Thanks to Sarah for the admin support, and Diana, Mark, Ray, Stephen and the rest (not forgetting outgoing chair Hugh) for the work on the Council.

People Fully Alive: Ely 2025 – a strategy for growth in the Diocese of Ely

By Sarah Williams, Diocesan Communications Manager

The Diocese of Ely is about to formally launch a new strategy, unambiguously aimed at transformation and growth. This strategy has arisen out of Bishop Stephen’s call to imagine our future and from the development over the last few years of a diocesan vision and set of imperatives.

‘We pray to be generous and visible people of Jesus Christ’ is our diocesan vision. It gives us a picture of the kind of church and people of God we hope to be. It gives us something to aim for. The ‘we’ is the diocese in all its forms – individuals, PCCs, parishes, deaneries and diocesan bodies – all of us are invited on this journey to continue to discern what God is calling us to be: a people fully alive here in Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk.

The strategy in its final format has been shaped by the 2,000 plus people who attended the consultation roadshows across the diocese, and the insightful and prayerful responses of individuals, parishes and groups who contributed to the survey. Overwhelmingly there is a desire and sense of urgency for change. There is an appetite to engage with, and welcome, steps towards transformation and growth. There is a widespread desire to cherish the past but to invest in the future.

So the strategy aims to begin to help us map out the future of the church over the next ten years as we look towards Ely 2025. This is a huge challenge. It means there has to be new ways of working, it will take time to adjust to, and not everything will be able to be done at once. We will need to pace ourselves as we immerse ourselves into the unfolding narrative of becoming people fully alive.

Key signposts in the strategy are the levers of change. These provide a common language and focus for our priorities and actions. The levers set the agenda and overall direction of travel as we begin now to identify the opportunities and challenges ahead.

The levers are:

· Nurture a confident people of God

· Develop healthy churches

· Serve the community

· Re-imagine our buildings

· Target support to key areas.

The strategy will be fully integrated with the outworking of mission and ministry in the diocese. We will, as our imperatives indicate, engage fully and courageously with the needs of our communities, locally and globally; grow God’s church by finding disciples and nurturing leaders; and we will deepen our commitment to God through word, worship and prayer.

None of this will work without being deeply rooted in God’s grace, help and blessing. No work of ours is of any use at all unless we seek to abide deeply and continuously in the divine life and love. We wish to be rooted in prayer.

Speaking of our strategy, Bishop Stephen says:

‘As much as anything else our strategy is a call to prayer. We pray … that we may be the people God calls us to be, fully alive in Him.’

What next? This autumn our Archdeacons Hugh and Alex, together with Diocesan Secretary, Paul Evans, will lead a series of roadshows around the diocese. These will give you the opportunity to hear more details of how the strategy is being implemented and what the key priorities and actions are.

Dates and venues can be found on the diocesan website here:

Please do come and find out more.

Attending church is the key to good mental health among older Europeans, study finds

A press release from the LSE reports new research showing that attending church is the key to good mental health among older Europeans

A study of depression among older Europeans has found that joining a religious organisation is more beneficial than charity work, sport or education in improving their mental health.

The surprising findings from a study by the Erasmus MC and the London School of Economics and Political Science also reveal that political and community organisations actually have a detrimental impact on the mental health of older Europeans on a long term basis.

In a study of 9000 Europeans aged 50+ over a four-year period, researchers at Erasmus MC and LSE looked at different levels of social activity and how they influenced people’s moods.

LSE epidemiologist Dr Mauricio Avendano said the only activity associated with sustained happiness was attending a church, synagogue or mosque.

“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life. It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated,” he said.

The study showed that joining political and community organisations only provides short-term benefits in terms of mental health and seems, in fact, to lead to an increase in depressive symptoms longer term.

“Participants receive a higher sense of reward when they first join an organisation but if it involves a lot of effort and they don’t get much in return, the benefits may wear off after some time,” he said.

Similarly, the study did not find any short-term benefits from sports and participation in other social activities.

According to the recent Global Burden of Disease study, the incidence of depression among older Europeans ranges from 18 per cent in Denmark to 37 per cent in Spain.

While the sample sizes were small, the study by Dr Simone Croezen from Erasmus MC, Dr Avendano and colleagues also threw up some unusual findings:

* Southern Europeans (Italy and Spain) have higher rates of depression than older people who live in the Scandinavian countries (Sweden and Denmark) or western Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands);

* Depression may have less to do with the weather and more with other determinants, such as economic wellbeing or social relationships;

* Northern Europeans are more likely to play sport than their southern counterparts;

* Southern Europeans do not tend to socialise beyond their family networks and less than 10 per cent take part in either voluntary work or educational/training courses.

Previous studies have found that people who are involved in the church, clubs, sport, political groups and voluntary activities enjoy better mental health than the rest of the population. However, little research has been done on whether any of these activities in themselves actually cause happiness or whether people who are happy to begin with are more likely to engage in these activities.

“Our findings suggest that different types of social activities have an impact on mental health among older people, but the strength and direction of this effect varies according to the activity,” Dr Avendano said.

“One of the most puzzling findings is that although healthier people are more likely to volunteer, we found no evidence that volunteering actually leads to better mental health. It may be that any benefits are outweighed by other negative impacts of volunteering, such as stress.”

Social participation and depression in old age is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It is authored by Dr Simone Croezen (University Medical Centre Rotterdam), Dr Mauricio Avendano (LSE Health and Social Care), and Dr Alex Burdorf and Dr Frank van Lenthe (Erasmus MC).

The paper is available at:

On the Edge at St Edward’s, Cambridge

If you’ve heard of the Goth Eucharist (now metamorphosed into On the Edge) you might be interested in this slot on a US radio show about the Goth Eucharist. Canon Fraser Watts says it captures what they are about quite well.
Click on the arrow to play the programme.

St Edward’s has two On The Edge in January:

  • Jan 9th: Dancing Through the Fire. Malcolm reflects on our Pilgrim Journey with the music of Mystery Train. (Malcolm will both preach and play his own songs with members of his band).
    Jan 23rd: Recovery: Matt Russell talks about what a bunch of recovering drunks can teach us about spirituality.

“In the beginning was the Word” – Archbishop of Canterbury encourages reading St John’s Gospel this Christmas in Reflections video

In one of his last appearances as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams is reflecting on and unpacking the start of St John’s Gospel, the final reading at the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols Service from King’s College Cambridge – which focuses on the eternal light and life of God. The Archbishop’s encouragement to look beyond the Nativity comes in a video reflection for Christmas Day to conclude the Church of England’s Reflections for Advent series of podcasts. For full details, go to:’s-gospel-this-christmas-in-reflections-video.aspx

Christmas Sermon Tweets on the Way

#ChristmasStartsWithChrist Watch out for tweets on this hashtag of my Christmas Day sermon from Littlehey Prison. Titus 2.11-14 is my text and A Passion for Good my theme.

Since taking a phone into prison is an offence, and I want to be able to come out again to enjoy our #bigfamilychristmas, I’ll be setting the tweets up in advance to be sent from this blog at about the right time.

The sermons of greater prelates than I, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and the Archbishop Designate, Justin Welby will all be given the Twitter treatment, while fellow clergy and congregation are being encouraged to join the social media campaign.

"This is a brilliant opportunity for parishes to take the good news of the first Christmas out of churches and into people’s lives and homes," said the Reverend Arun Arora, Director of Communications at the Archbishops’ Council.

"There are large numbers of social media enthusiasts to be found in pews and pulpits across the country. This is an invitation for them to join together to celebrate the joy of the Christ Child coming into the world, taking the real meaning of Christmas to a new digital audience."

HOUSE OF BISHOPS Report of latest meeting


1. A meeting of the House of Bishops was held at Lambeth Palace on 10-11 December 2012.  Those matters reported below reflect the items discussed and decisions agreed upon.

2. The House considered the consequences of the 20 November General Synod vote on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.  The House recognised and felt the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief and disappointment experienced by so many in the Church of England and beyond.  The House considered that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions, and affirmed that the Church of England now had to resolve the issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency. It was agreed that a statement from the House of Bishops on this issue would be released as soon as possible after the conclusion of the meeting.

3. The House expressed its gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events had left so many feeling undermined and undervalued.

4. The House had the benefit of four senior female members of General Synod participating in their discussion.  The House agreed to hold an event in early 2013 to which lay and ordained women will be invited, to discuss how the culture of its processes and discussions might be changed and a more regular contribution from women secured.

5. The House also set up a working group drawn from all three Houses of Synod (the membership to be determined by the Archbishops and announced before Christmas), to arrange facilitated discussion with a wide range of people of a variety of views in the week of 4 February and to advise the House so that it can decide in May what fresh legislative proposals to bring before the next meeting of the General Synod in July.

6. The House considered a number of items relating to appointments, personal data and ministry and:

· agreed draft guidelines on Clergy Current Status Letters and Clergy Personal Files subject to some further revisions;

· approved new model guidance on Parochial Appointments;

· noted a presentation on the funding of Bishops’ Legal Costs, with reference to upcoming local training sessions;

· approved revisions to the 1975 Guidelines on Deliverance Ministry; and

· agreed to the abolition of the obsolete Bishops’ Agreed Maximum for theological colleges.

7. The House considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality. Pending the conclusion of the group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

8. The House was updated in relation to a draft document in preparation from the Faith and Order Commission in relation to the doctrine of marriage.  The House agreed that, once further revisions had been made, it could be issued with the agreement of the Standing Committee as a FAOC document and commended for study.

9. The Archbishop of Canterbury briefed the House on recent events throughout the Anglican Communion.

10. The House approved new policies in relation to Local Ecumenical Policy.

11. The House approved a proposal to update the publication of Bishops’ Working Costs.

12. The House was briefed in relation to ongoing work by the Archbishops’ Task Group on Spending Plans.

13. The House was briefed on the published results of the 2011 Census.  The House noted a statement which had been made on the results.

From PR 171.1 20/12/2012

Further information from
Arun Arora                   tel         020 7898 1462 or 07984 334564