News from the Diocese of Worcester

Diocese of Worcester


Please pray for all those who give up their time to help others. Our churches couldn’t exist without volunteers, we thank God for each and every one of them.

Sermon podcast: Lent 2

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

I have to say I do not like suffering, or even the thought of it. However, I have often found myself drawn to people and situations where there is suffering. Between 2013 and 2017 I was part of the Healthcare Chaplaincy team for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, and there I found great consolation as I ministered to people in sometimes very difficult circumstances. By consolation I mean finding myself somehow closer to God.

Consolation directs our focus outside and beyond ourselves, lifts our hearts so that we can see the joys and sorrows of other people, bonds us more closely to our human community, generates new inspiration and ideas; restores balance and refreshes our inner vision, shows us where God is active in our lives and where he is leading us, and can release new energy in us.

I have received so much from our Lord Jesus and from those to whom I have supposedly been the one ministering! It seems strange, but in challenging circumstances I have often felt very close to God.This is true of my parish ministry and my family life also.

Recently my wife Jackie and I were on our way home from a family holiday, driving along the M50, when we saw someone we know broken down on the hard shoulder. We stopped to see if we could help.Both getting out of the car for safety, we walked along the hard shoulder when Jackie stepped onto a paving slab which suddenly collapsed underneath her, pitching her forward and resulting in a broken knee. It was sudden, completely unexpected and had disastrous consequences.

We managed to get to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital where the care was truly second to none. We had not intended to visit my old work place that day! We were both shocked by this unexpected turn of events.But in the midst of it we felt the grace of God, his consolation. Through the wonderful care Jackie (and I!) received, and also because what should have been terribly painful for Jackie, was remarkably free from pain, we were blessed in the midst of something which could have been terrible. We prayed a great deal, and we continue to do so, and we know many have been praying for Jackie.

In our Gospel reading from Mark, Peter, whose honest and open character is loved by so many of us, was deeply shocked by Jesus saying that he, Jesus, was to undergo great suffering; that he would be rejected by the elders, the chief Priests and the scribes. And to add horror to shock, when Jesus explained that he was to be killed, and after three days would rise again, Peter had to take him to one side and tell him off.

You see Peter was still in that frame of mind, as were the other disciples, which expected the Messiah to come in might and power to over throw the Roman occupation. To hear Jesus speak of what must have sounded like defeat, was just too much for Peter! Jesus of course rebukes Peter with what are in truth tough words!!I imagine that Peter could not process Jesus talking about rising after 3 days, but only heard words which sounded to him like defeat.

Jesus then goes on to speak about those wanting to be his followers denying themselves and taking up their cross. Oh dear, I do want to be Jesus’ follower, always and forever, but must I suffer too?Must we suffer too?

Well none of us would choose to suffer, but I believe that when the challenges of life happen, as they surely will, that Jesus is absolutely there with us. And because of his passion and his gift of himself on the cross and his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension, in the midst of life and in the midst of suffering, his consolation is to be found. Like Peter we might be shocked at the suggestion that in times which look like defeat we may find the very presence of God.

I pray that in this time of Lent as you may seek to deny yourself and to take up your cross that you too will find consolation.


  1. As you ponder your life, can you recall times of difficulty or suffering when you have found yourself strangely closer to God?
  2. If you were to describe your cross, what would it look like?

​The Armed Forces

Pray for all of those who serve our country in the armed forces. Keep them safe from harm and give them courage to face all perils.

​Racial Justice Sunday

The Methodist Church has celebrated Racial Justice Sunday (RJS) since 1989. In 1995 RJS became an ecumenical event celebrated in Britain and Ireland and this year it moves to the second Sunday in February. 

The organisers say:
We believe that the universe was created by a loving God who chose to become a human being in Jesus Christ, who has redeemed the world and sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to love one another with God’s love. All human beings are equally children of God and loved by God. Since none is outside the love of God, none should be outside our love either.

“We believe that the diversity of the human race was no mistake on God’s part. God deliberately created variety within the human family and wants us to take as much delight in that variety as God does. 

“But racism persists in Britain and Ireland. At its most obvious and brutal, it takes the form of physical attacks. But it takes many other forms as well, like discrimination within the police force, popular prejudice against Travellers or people seeking asylum, or reluctance to accept people of a different ethnic or cultural group as neighbours. Even within churches, people can face discrimination and unkindness because they are different from the majority in a particular community. 

“As long as this continues, we believe that it is important to make time to give thanks for our diversity and to pray for God’s help in overcoming our prejudices and the injustices that reflect and reinforce them.” 

Pray for all who face racial discrimination in our society. 

Martley and Worcester West Deanery – Rural Dean: David Sherwin; Lay Chair: John Chidlow

Church spires to boost rural wifi access

NEWS / Churches spires set to play key role in bringing wifi, broadband and mobile access to rural areas under new agreement between Church of England and the Government.

​Those facing persecution

Pray for all those who are facing persecution in their own counties. Remembering particularly those in Syria and Iraq.

The Diocesan Education Team

Pray for all those who work in the Diocesan Education Team. For Director of Education, Margaret James; Deputy Director of Education, Tim Reid; Executive Officer, Gilly Maxim; and Administrators Toni Enefer and Laura Farmer. For Claire Davies CEO of the Diocesan Multi Academy Trust; Claire Roberts, Academy Support Officer and for the team of consultants who support their work.

Shakespeare's marriage bond recognised by UNESCO

Shakespeare's marriage bond is one of the documents held in the Archive at the Hive in Worcester on behalf of the Diocese. It's significance has recently been recognised by UNESCO. 

Dr Lisa Snook, User Services Manager of the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, explains:

"Of the hundreds of thousands of documents in our care, William Shakespeare's marriage bond is probably one of our most well-known. Now this document, along with two others relating to the great playwright, has been recognised by UNESCO as part of an internationally significant collection. 

Following a successful nomination 90 documents relating to Shakespeare's family, business and legal affairs have been added to the International Memory of the World Register. We worked in partnership with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who led the nomination, as well as The National Archives, the College of Arms, the British Library and London Metropolitan Archives in the UK and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C, USA. The collection is known collectively as the 'Shakespeare Documents', and together they are key sources for William Shakespeare's biography. 

The Worcestershire documents are part of the vast Diocese of Worcester collection, and help to tell the story of Shakespeare's personal life in Stratford rather than his literary life. The bond for the marriage of Anne and William, and the subsequent recording of the marriage licence in the Bishop of Worcester's register of 1582, show the process through which the couple sough to marry, their connections and their circumstances at the time. The will of Thomas Whittington gives a fascinating insight into his personal networks and connections in Stratford, as well as the connections of his wife and her philanthropic work. Thomas names Anne Shakespeare, and specifically requests that she distributes money to the poor of Stratford.

We are very proud of our Shakespeare connections, and are delighted that the collection documents relating to his work and his life are being recognised in this way."

Old Hill Church gets National Lottery Support

Holy Trinity, the parish church of Old Hill, has received initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their Tower Roof Project it has been announced. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to secure the fabric of the tower roof and stonework. The tower structure will be made structurally secure and water tight. The pyramid shape lead roof will be replaced and the timber structure repaired and made safe.

The 1970s kitchen in the church centre will also be re-designed to allow provision of a wider variety of food that will attract new groups to use the facilities.

Development funding of £13,400 has also been awarded to help Holy Trinity progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

Known locally as “the church with the Christmas star”, the funding received will enable the star to continue to shine for years to come.The Christmas star, mounted on the tower roof, is visible to thousands of homes in Old Hill and the surrounding areas of Netherton, Cradley, Rowley Regis and Cradley Heath.

Holy Trinity church and church centre are used every weekday by a number of church and community groups, who are looking forward to being able to use the smart new kitchen which is planned.

In addition, a Heritage programme of events is planned, starting with a Heritage Weekend taking place on 23 – 25 March. On Saturday 24 there will be an Open Day to celebrate local history. Everyone is invited to join the celebrations. It expected that many from the local community, including families with connections to the church through baptisms or weddings will find the day particularly interesting.On display will be archive registers and other historic documents along with wedding and baptism outfits.

The Revd Nick Gowers, Vicar of Holy Trinity, said: “We are grateful to God for this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Holy Trinity Church is a vibrant Christian community serving Old Hill and beyond with the good news of Jesus. The Heritage Lottery grant will help us continue using our historical church building for this great task into the 21st century.”

Vanessa Harbar, head of HLF West Midlands said ““We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, Holy Trinity Church can now progress their plans to ensure that the fabric of this much-loved building is secure and enable more people to visit and enjoy it.”

* HLF grants programme applications are assessed in two rounds.The Tower Roof Development Project has initially been granted round one development funding of £13,400 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to progress with its plans.Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second round, where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £168,000. 

The Cathedral Turned Upside Down!

Developed by the Cathedral’s Education Department, The Cathedral Turned Upside Down App will enable visitors to follow in the footsteps of King Charles II and the Duke of Hamilton as they discover the important role the building played in the Civil War, particularly during the decisive Battle of Worcester in 1651. As they move around the Cathedral, visitors will be able to interact with artefacts, images and first-hand accounts from the seventeenth-century which have been carefully selected to bring this tumultuous period of British history to life.

The App will be available to download for free from Saturday 17 February 2018 , in advance of visiting the Cathedral and will be suitable for anybody aged 12 and above. It will work on any smart phone or compatible mobile device. There will also be a paper copy of the tour available to collect on arrival at the Cathedral.

For further details contact the Director of Education and Learning, Benjamin Smith on 01905 732 934 or by e-mail.