Appointment of a Healthy Churches Mentor
Posted on the 1st Jun 2020 in the category Announcements
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
‘Whit Monday’ 2020
Appointment of a Healthy Churches Mentor for the parishes of the See of Ebbsfleet
On 5 March 2016 the Ebbsfleet Lay Congress at Coventry Cathedral was addressed by the then Archdeacon Missioner in the Diocese of Coventry, Morris Rodham, who talked about strategies for church growth and evangelization, and especially about the 8 Essential Qualities which underpinned a programme for Growing Healthy Churches that he had introduced, very successfully, across the Diocese of Coventry. That same day was also addressed by Bishop Rowan Williams, on the theme of ‘Growing the Catholic Community’.
Subsequently Archdeacon Morris proposed to make the programme available to parishes across the See of Ebbsfleet too. With Bishop Jonathan’s support the Diocese of Coventry included the See of Ebbsfleet in a funding bid to the Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund, which obtained funding for a full-time post to undertake the work of supporting Ebbsfleet parishes in the aspiration to grow the church using the Healthy Churches Programme.
At last the scheme can begin, and Bishop Jonathan is delighted to announce that The Reverend Canon Gary Ecclestone SSC has been appointed to this new role available to the parishes under his oversight.
Fr Gary has been Vicar of Hanslope & Castlethorpe in the Diocese of Oxford since 2003 and is Area Dean of Newport. He is no stranger to the wider Ebbsfleet Area having been born and brought up in Lichfield diocese, came to faith as a student in Exeter diocese, completed a PGCE living in Truro diocese, trained for ordination in Oxford diocese, and served his title in Salisbury diocese: all dioceses in the area served by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
Fr Gary’s role will include supporting and mentoring incumbents across the Ebbsfleet area, working with PCCs and key lay people to reflect on the wider life and health of their church communities, introducing the 8 Essential Qualities and supporting parishes in surveying their church life, identifying both things to celebrate as well as areas for future development, and helping implement the Society Bishops’ agenda of ‘Forming Missionary Disciples’. He will be part of a network with others in the Catholic movement who are engaged locally in similar roles
Fr Gary says, “I am hugely excited, albeit slightly trepidatious, at being called to this new post which will take me to a hugely diverse set of parishes from the Fal Estuary in Cornwall, to the very north of Derbyshire. I hope I can bring with me a genuine enthusiasm and passion for growing the church and I am really looking forward to working with priest colleagues and committed lay people, as together we look to take stock of where we are, and discern what the Spirit might be saying to the local Church in each context.”
Bishop Jonathan says, “I am delighted that the efforts and creativity of so many colleagues in the dioceses Coventry and Oxford and the Strategic Investment Board have made this role available to those under my oversight; and I encourage parishes and clergy to embrace it with joy. I’m even more pleased that Fr Gary, who is both a faithful and creative parish priest, is to be the colleague who will share this aspect of my own ministry for and with them. This appointment could not have come at a more opportune moment as the future opens up before us in an unexpected way. It is clear now, as we contemplate life beyond the pandemic, that whatever lies ahead in the design of God for his Church, she has to be herself, serving God, living out all the Gospel reveals. For that, Christians, and Christian communities, need to grow in confidence and holiness, as well as in number from every age group. I look forward to making the most of the time we have with Fr Gary in this role, and thank him for taking it on. May the Virgin Mary, ‘mother of the Church’, accompany with her prayers the Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel to the people of our time.”
Announcement of the new Bishop of Lewes
Posted on the 29th Apr 2020 in the category Announcements
Announcement of the new Bishop of Lewes
I am delighted at the appointment of Prebendary Will Hazlewood to be Bishop Suffragan of Lewes, and offer my congratulations to him – and to his new colleague, the Revd Ruth Bushyager, the new Bishop Suffragan of Horsham.
I have had the privilege of working closely with Will on many occasions, not least as one of my representatives in the Diocese of Exeter, and I have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience. He brings to the episcopate a wonderful range of skills, and is a person of grace, patience, wisdom, and humour. He will bring to his new ministry, and to his working relationships across the diocese and the wider episcopate, a rich pastoral experience and a deep desire to see the Church open up to its full calling.
Conscious of the challenges which accompany the spiritual and pastoral ministry that he is about to undertake, I have assured Bishop Will of my fraternal affection and personal good wishes, and my prayer that he – together with Sophie and their children – may feel the huge tide of unmerited love and prayer which comes the way of any new bishop. I hope that the Diocese of Chichester and the Church of England will share my pleasure at this appointment and support Will and his family with prayer and love.
St Catherine of Siena, 2020
Renewal of Vows
Posted on the 7th Apr 2020 in the category Announcements
The Bishop of Ebbsfleet will live-stream an Act of Prayer for the Renewal of Ordination Promises before the Blessed Sacrament for the clergy under his oversight at 11.30 on Maundy Thursday morning via his Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/bishopofebbsfleet
To fulfill the law of Christ: prayer for the Church in London.
Posted on the 23rd Mar 2020 in the category Announcements
To fulfill the law of Christ
To the clergy and people of the See of Ebbsfleet
From the Bishop
We hear the word ‘communion’ often in the church’s life. It’s a word with many layers of meaning. First it means the unity that we each have in the Spirit with Christ. Then, as a result, unity with one another in Christ, a life while is mutually recognizable, finally, by unity with the faith, worship and life of the apostles, most especially the Eucharist.
Communion carries with it the obligation, strongly present in the New Testament, that Christians should ‘Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way … fulfill the law of Christ.’ (Gal 6.2). Each one makes himself or herself a servant of the others, ‘washing the feet’ of his or her brothers and sisters in response to the Lord’s ‘new law’, his new commandment of love (cf. John 13:1-35). That mutuality is what is represented in the icon shown here – in which a young monk carries an old monk on his back. I want to ask you to exercise that ‘mutual burden-bearing’ in a particular way: in your prayers for the Church in London, because London is ahead of the rest of the country in seeing a steep rise in the number of those falling sick
Therefore, last evening the Bishops of London, Southwark, Rochester and Chelmsford communicated their regretful but necessary decision to close all Anglican churches across the London boroughs, even for private and personal prayer (though the clergy may continue to enter them to pray and to celebrate the church’s liturgy). See https://www.london.anglican.org/articles/closure-of-church-buildings/ The Dean and Chapter of Westminster has decided likewise.
This decision couldn’t be more serious and was taken because of the need, as the bishops put it, to ‘demonstrate how important physical distancing is in saving lives’. Of course it affects Anglicans, but let us not (ever) forget our fellow Christians. London is an environment in which there is the widest possible range of other Christian communities, which minister collectively to a huge international range of the capital’s poorest and most vulnerable.
This will inevitably be a huge blow to the parishes of The Society under the Bishops of Fulham and Richborough, and their clergy who have been taking comfort and sense of purpose from ministering to those who come in through their church’s doors, and making available a safe and peaceful place, where Christ himself may minister through prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for them; pray for all fellow Anglicans; and – in the same breath – pray for all other Christians in London, and those who have sought shelter, consolation and faith in the capital’s churches.
Yours, in the Lord
Almighty Father, who taught us through your Son Jesus Christ that unless we love one another we cannot fulfil your law: of your goodness and by your grace give us a true concern for the needs of our brothers and sisters in the faith in their witness and service, that in sharing one another’s burdens we may fulfil your law.; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Posted on the 20th Mar 2020 in the category Announcements
From the Bishop of Ebbsfleet
to all parishes under his oversight
Concerning Public Worship and the Celebration of the Sacraments
in relation to the current international pandemic
20 March 2020
St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord
In three short weeks, here and in many places around the world, life has been radically changed. Our daily patterns of life and work are being changed to protect the greater good; the institutions and services of our common life are under unprecedented pressure; and the lives of the world’s most vulnerable—the elderly, the poor, the homeless and those with health conditions—are threatened. Little surprise then that the Church should find itself deeply affected, and having no choice but to find new and untried ways of living through this time and looking to the future.
I am sure that you will all recognize the wisdom of Her Majesty The Queen’s appeal yesterday that as a society we should come together ‘to work as one’, concentrating our combined efforts, focusing on our common goal. ‘We all have a vitally important part to play’, she said ‘as individuals.’ Paradoxically, at a time when our individual lives are being pushed apart by the absolute necessity to maintain universal good hygiene and a safe physical distance from one another, we are discovering that only acting in a really collaborative way will have the impact that we all need. We are all being taught by this experience to recalibrate the connections between our individuality and our community, between being one and being many – whether as people, as families and as nations.
Of all people on earth this should come as least surprise to the disciples of Jesus, whose profound sense of calling and responsibility as the Son of God was entirely shaped by the love of his Father and the salvation of his brothers and sisters. So Christians can recognize in our present crisis not just that human generosity which appears in times of danger and trial, but the reality of what it means to be human, and to be created in the likeness of God. To be human is to be one and many.
And that should remind us Christians of a second reality: that our life together as Christ’s Body is not for the sake of ourselves but for the life of the world. If in these coming months the Church has to experience being forcibly pulled away from the consolations of our routine life and worship—forced for the first time that any of us can remember, into a kind of collective eucharistic fast—it may be so that we can rediscover the mission God has given us: to be real witnesses in this world—currently so fearful and anxious—of the joy and peace of the world to come, God’s kingdom.
Plainly none of this will happen if we do not use the time that we now have on our hands to learn afresh how to pray. Not just prayers for all the different ways in which people are caught up in the present crisis; but prayers that turn our hearts toward God. The Psalms frequently exhort us to praise God’s mighty power and his loving intimacy. We may have to be physically distant from one another, but God is not distant. ‘He is’, says St Augustine, ‘nearer to us than our innermost parts’. (Confessions 3.6.11)
In recent days, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the bishops, have implemented changes in how we must practice our faith for the coming months. I too have written to all the clergy of parishes under my oversight setting out the necessary changes that need to take effect in the pastoral and liturgical ministries we share. Your parish priest can provide you with copies of the archbishops’ letter and mine. I ask every worshipper to embrace these arrangements. They will be kept under review in the light of expert health and hygiene advice.
Of course the most dramatic change is the suspension of all public acts of worship, and thus the lack of access to celebrations of the Eucharist. All clergy and lay officers will however strive to keep our churches open wherever possible so that, especially on Sunday mornings, those who wish to can visit to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I do not underestimate what a loss this will be to you all. Nonetheless the clergy have been encouraged to celebrate the Eucharist and to pray Morning and Evening Prayer, in church without a congregation. Some churches will make arrangements for live-streaming of these acts of worship to support the laity: I hope to do so myself. But above all I encourage you to keep Sunday carefully as the Lord’s Day, to read slowly and prayerfully the readings for that day’s Mass; to pray the Rosary, the Litany, the Jesus Prayer; to prepare in your home a shrine or prayer station, with a crucifix and images of the Lord and the saints; and to expressing to the Lord in prayer your desire to receive Holy Communion even while you can’t; desiring to be united to him, and filled with his Holy Spirit. It will be a blessed and joyful day, when we can assemble again to celebrate Mass together!
Thank you for everything you will do to support your parish, and its wider community in the coming months. Please show a special care and concern for anyone who might struggle. And do not be afraid to ask for prayerful support yourself. Shop responsibly; be generous to charities helping the most vulnerable; encourage your families as often as you can with words of faith and hope; pray for those afflicted by the virus; and those who risk their lives to help them.
Two prayers for you to use at home before Passiontide begins:
Almighty God, it is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power, and by your outstretched arm. Nothing is beyond your power. We turn to you in our need, to ask your protection against coronavirus which has claimed lives and affected many. We pray for those afflicted. May they soon be restored to health. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
With love and every blessing:
+ Jonathan Ebbsfleet