News from the Diocese of Worcester

Diocese of Worcester

​Retired Clergy in Pershore Deanery

Give thanks for the ministry of retired clergy, many of whom are assisting in maintaining stability in times of change and transition. We pray they may have a sense of the gratitude felt by the parishes they serve. 

Diocese of South Dakota: Bishop John Tarrant

​Economy and Daily Life

Ahead of St Matthew’s day tomorrow, pray for all who work in the tax system and for wisdom in the way taxes are used by government for local and national services, including welfare and health services. Diocese of South Ankole (Uganda): Bishop Nathan Ahimbisibwe 

Diocese of West Ankole: Bishop Johnson Twinomujuni

Wollaston, St James

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

Wollaston, St James

An application has been made to the Worcester Consistory Court for a faculty to authorise the replacement of stolen lead in an alternative material

Copies of the relevant documents may be inspected at the Diocesan Registry.

If you wish to object to the proposal you should write giving reasons for your objections to me at:

8 Sansome Walk


Please ensure your objection reaches the Registry not later than 10 October 2017

You should give your name and postal address and state the capacity in which you write.

S C Ness

Diocesan Registrar 

​Norton Juxta Kempsey

We pray for our work with children & families, our new Xcite service, Messy Church & after school clubs and for Norton Juxta Kempsey First School. For ALMs Clare Morgan & Catherine Worton & Outreach Worker Josh Kennedy. Clergy: Mark Badger, Philippa Sargent, David Hassell, Owain Bell, Ann Hadley; Readers: Sheila Cook, Peter Fitzjohn, Libby James, Paul Kemp, Ron Rust 

Diocese of Soroti (Uganda): Bishop George Erwau

New Readers licensed

Two people from parishes in the Diocese were admitted to the office of Reader on Saturday in Worcester Cathedral. The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, conducted the service, licensing the individuals to minister in the parishes they have been called to serve.

Readers being licensed Readers are trained and licensed lay ministers in the Church of England authorised in particular to exercise a ministry of preaching and teaching. They undergo a two year training course before being admitted to the role, after which they carry out a wide range of tasks within their parishes and beyond, especially helping others to reflect on their faith and how it relates to their daily lives.

Those admitted and licensed were:

  • Sally-Anne Burdett, licensed to the Bromsgrove Team Ministry
  • Melissa Beynon, licensed to the United Parish of Stoke Prior, Wychbold and Upton Warren together with the Bowbrook Group

Bishop John said: “Lay Ministers play a very important role in our churches, sharing their faith with others and serving them in God's name. I was delighted to be able to license Sally-Anne and Melissa to this very important role.”

Sheila Banyard receiving a thank you giftThe service was also an opportunity to say thank you to Canon Sheila Banyard, Rural Dean of Droitwich, who has had a pastoral role looking after the Lay Ministers in our Diocese for many years as ‘Warden of Readers’. Sheila was the preacher at the service. She said: “God calls each of us, just as we are. As Christians, we have a responsibility to tell people God’s story and give them the space to work out what it means to them. We should listen constantly for God’s voice reminding us that we’re all loved by Him and help others to do the same, as well as giving thanks for those who have been God’s storytellers for us.”

The Revd Sue Oliver, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Pensnett, Dudley, has taken over from Sheila as Warden of Readers.

See photos from the service

Quotes from the Candidates:

Sally-Anne Burdett

Sally Anne Burdett

It is such a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to train as a Licensed Lay Minister in the Diocese of Worcester. The two years of training at Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham has been enormously helpful in preparing and equipping me for the ministry that now lies ahead.

This journey has been encouraged and supported by so many different people from family, friends, tutors, fellow students, those from my training placement and my home parish. They have all helped to shape and enhance the way forward into Licensed Lay Ministry and I am extremely grateful to them all.

I am now looking forward to serving the communities within my own parish and to supporting my clergy colleagues; as well as growing and developing in ministry to walk alongside others in faith, hope, and love.

Melissa Beynon

Melissa Beynon

Since around five years ago I knew that I needed to do ‘something’ in terms of ministry in the church. This felt like an inner voice, or a ’prodding’ to step out of my comfort zone and to help others to see and experience God in everyday life. I tried to ignore it, but the inner voice and call grew!

When exploring ministry, the phrase ‘helping people connect faith and life’ was in some of the literature I saw about Readers. This leapt out at me, as something that I loved to do already informally, and that I wanted to be trained and given authority to do more effectively.

In Reader ministry there is a lot of flexibility, such as leading services, teaching, preaching, small groups, community projects, chaplaincy work, visiting, or taking communion to those at home. I find this very exciting, as the possibilities are endless.

The training has been very demanding and challenging, but I have loved going to Queen’s Theological College. I’ve learned how to approach scripture and theology in a much deeper way. My thinking has been expanded by the tutors and the other students. In our classes there were students from very different churches and backgrounds, all adding to the richness of our discussions. The weekly worship at Queen’s has been amazing too, I will never forget all the wonderful people I’ve met and will miss going there. But as we are licensed we’re beginning another adventure.

The 1st Calling Young Disciples Learning Community starts

The first Calling Young Disciples Learning Community has been established. The community consists of representatives from the four different church groups with whom the Mission Enablers are working and is meeting together every six months over two and a half years.

The Learning Community is being run by CPAS and aims to help the Calling Young Disciples Mission Enablers and their host parishes to be as effective as possible growing their engagement with children, young people and their families. The first two-day meeting was led by CPAS Leadership Specialist, Pam Macnaughton, who said:

learning community group

“We’ve recognised that it’s hard for one person to affect change in a parish in a short period of time. The purpose of the learning community is to gather a group together to discuss and plan what could be done. By working as a team, there’s a much greater likelihood of change.”

The learning community groups include the Mission Enablers as well as lay leaders, influential lay members and clergy from each of the churches involved. There will be five further meetings of the community and even when the Mission Enabler has moved onto another parish, they will still come back to support the existing communities. Each gathering looks at a different topic. The first was ‘Our Community and Mission’ with the groups looking at the story of the churches’ engagement with children and young people so far. Other sessions will look at disciples, leaders, evangelism and the future. At the end of a meeting, each parish group will put together an action plan for the next six months, which will be revisited next time.

learning community activity“This is a pilot learning community for those working with children and young people,” continued Pam. “However, our experience has shown that learning communities are very effective at enabling change and new thinking in a range of different spheres and we trust and pray that this Calling Young Disciples Community will be transformative for the parishes and their work with children and young people.”

Mission Enabler Adam Legge is currently working with Kidderminster East. He said: “The learning community will help to give a context in which the parish can start to build change. I hope it will help to alter the mind sets of key people in churches who can then help drive through different ways of engaging with children and young people and see them as a way to bring life and vitality to our churches.”

Vicar of St Peter, Lapal, Hazel Charlton, is a member of the group from the Halas Team. She said: “From the first evening, the learning community was really informative and fun. The group gelled immediately and it was fascinating when we looked at how the world had changed during our different lifetimes! It’s exciting that so many different church groups can meet together – we’ve brought representatives from all our churches and it will definitely enable us to build connections and bond as a team which will help our future work.”

learning community activityCathy Repton came to the learning community as a Sunday School leader working at St. John’s Church in Bromsgrove. She said: “I really enjoyed the first sessions. Everyone was very friendly and it was a good format, with a mixture of activities rather than just sitting around tables talking. One of the main things I took away from the weekend was the importance of asking our local community about what it wants and needs and creating fresh expressions of church around that, rather than first looking at our capabilities. I’m going back to badger the church leaders to do just that!”

Sermon podcast: Trinity 15

Press the play button to listen to the recording or click on the Download link to download a .mp3 file to your computer.

I may be a little unusual in this, but Jonah is one of my favourite books of the Bible. It’s not just because it’s one of the shortest. In part, it’s because I enjoy humorous stories, and in part because I often identify with Jonah in not being very keen on doing what I think God wants me to do.

Jonah is nothing if not a funny story. Here’s a prophet who gets sent to preach to Nineveh, the capital of the ancient empire of Assyria. He is sent to warn Israel’s greatest enemy to tell them Israel’s God condemns their behaviour. What does Jonah do, but rush to the docks, and get a boat in the opposite direction. The boat is engulfed in a massive storm, and Jonah confesses in the middle of driving waves and lashing downpour that he is running away from God – and not just any old God, but specifically the God who made both sea and land.

So depressed does Jonah become at this thought that he invites the sailors to throw him overboard. They try to row for safety, but in the end have no choice: they throw Jonah into the sea, offer sacrifices to Jonah’s God, and make him promises of loyalty. Despite himself, Jonah gains some converts for the Lord.

Then, of course, comes the bit of the story everyone knows. Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish, until he finally gives in and prays, acknowledging God’s power to rescue even him. Coincidentally, in the three days Jonah has been in the fish’s stomach, the fish seems to have got closer to the Assyrian empire, for now it spits Jonah up onto a nearby beach, where he can set out for Nineveh with the message God gave him.

He gets there, determined, it seems to do the minimum he can to fulfil God’s command. The writer exaggerates the size of Nineveh: he makes the city twice the size of modern day London. Jonah trudges across a third of the city, not even mentioning God, but simply proclaiming “In forty days’ time, Nineveh will be destroyed.”

When prophets preached to Israel they said far more than this, and most of the time people ignored them. Jonah says hardly anything, and everybody listens. The king repents and commands a fast. The people repent and keep the fast. Even the animals join in. This is repentance on a spectacular scale. And, of course, bringing the story up to the start of today’s reading, God forgives them, and Nineveh is not destroyed.

Jonah is furious, because he knew this would happen, and now, as he always feared, he looks a fool. He prophesied God’s judgement, and God followed up with forgiveness. Jonah is insulted by God’s goodness. He wants a good bit of smiting, thunderbolts and lightening, very, very frightening and when he doesn’t get it he sulks. He would like to serve a more consistent God, and one who wasn’t quite so soft-hearted, a God who would make Israel great again, and not be so nice to her enemies.

In similar vein, Jesus tells a parable about the generosity of the landowner, who ignores market rates for the daily and hourly pay of occasional labour, and decides to give those who’ve worked the last hour in the cool of late afternoon the same day’s pay as those who have worked from early morning, through the fierce heat of midday, right up to the end. It was a fair wage for a day’s work, and an extraordinarily generous wage for an hour’s work. It’s hardly surprising that this doesn’t feel much like justice to those who’ve worked hard all day.

In neither the Old Testament story, or the gospel parable is God concerned with keeping accounts. The book of Jonah pictures a God who will look for the slightest excuse to be forgiving, Jesus’ story pictures a God who offers the same rights and rewards to a johnny-come-lately as to those who have a lifetime of faithfulness behind them.

I said earlier that I often find myself identifying with Jonah – I don’t always feel terribly enthusiastic for the tasks I am called to. But truthfully, I also have a deeply embedded sense of fairness that makes me sympathise with the workers who have toiled through the heat of the day. God is not fair, he is too generous for that. The hardest change many of us have to make is to accept others with the same generosity as God. I won’t get any more from God for having given a lifetime in ministry, than the person who has turned to God in the hospice. I don’t have any more ownership of the church I’ve worshipped in for thirty years than the person who joined last year.

Jonah and Jesus both picture a God who can’t be held accountable to a human scheme of measurement. Love is not quantifiable. God’s generosity would be a very strange basis on which to run a business, or even a society. But it is meant to be the basis on which we try to run the church. How are you doing with that?


  • Have you ever thought of God’s love and grace as something that people can be uncomfortable with?
  • Jonah was asked to take God’s word to those he didn’t care about, and ran in the opposite direction. Are there things where you find it very hard to do what God seems to want?
  • Jesus offers a picture of a God who rewards the long-term and short-term worker alike. How easy is it in your parish for “the old guard” to share the church with “newcomers” on an equal basis?

​Stoulton with Drakes Broughton and Pirton

Please pray for our new Priest and Pastor Emma Goldby and for establishing a successful team with all the churches in the Northern Pershore Deanery. Clergy: Emma Goldby; Readers: Ron Rust, John Rider (emeritus) 

Diocese of Sokoto (Nigeria): Bishop Augustin Omole

​A special anniversary

Today marks a very special day for Canon Ruth Wintle from Martley & Worcester West Deanery – it is the fiftieth anniversary of the start of her full-time ministry. She has had a very varied half century, progressing from parish worker, through theological college lecturer and Deacon, to Priest, as well as many other roles along the way, including nine years as a Selection Secretary with the Advisory Council for the Church’s Ministry, during a time of considerable change in women’s ministry in the 1970s.

Throughout her time in ministry, Ruth has seen attitudes and rules change. When she arrived in Worcester in 1983 women could not even be deacons. She was the first ordained woman to be installed as a Canon in the Church of England, having already served as Diocesan Director of Ordinands for several years. Ruth has known “fifty years of change, opportunity, delight and blessing. What an amazing privilege!” 

Ruth has always enjoyed leading worship and preaching, and has had amazing support from colleagues who gave her full scope to exercise her ministry even at a time when women were expected to work only with women and children. But most of all, it is “seeing God opening doors and giving grace to fulfil all that he has asked that ultimately means the most”. 

Please pray for Ruth as she reaches this anniversary and for all women in ministry. 

Pershore Deanery – Rural Dean: Susan Renshaw; Lay Chair: Sue Perry 

Diocese of Sodor & Man: The Ven Peter Eagles 

Diocese of Tuam, Killala & Achonry (Ireland): Bishop Patrick Rooke 

Diocese of Bath & Wells: Bishop Peter Hancock with Bishop Ruth Worsley (Taunton)

​St Mary, Wick & St James the Great, Birlingham

Pray for our partnership with Pershore Foodbank. For those exploring confirmation. Give thanks for our Benefice churchwardens. For ALMs and all those who hold PTO. Clergy: Claire Lording, Orion Edgar, Alma Organ; Readers: David Bray, Angela Gerrard, Peter Stansbie, Joanna Williams

Diocese of Sittwe (Myanmar): Bishop James Min Dein