From the Vicar
Firstly a huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make Easter so special. The new flower arrangements were stunning while the music was particularly special this year – I have received lots of appreciative comments about the 10.30am service on Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday the first ‘Church on a Family Trail Run’ was very much enjoyed by all those who attended.
Easter was quickly followed by the 2019 APCM, a very special evening. I was delighted that the meeting elected Sarah Leighton and Ruth Watkin as Churchwardens and Dave Coleshill and Julia Newton as deputy Churchwardens. In addition we also elected Alan Cantrell, Michael Gordon, Jon Hattersley, Rod Ismay, Eric Phillips and Alison Woodman to the PCC. Please do remember them in your prayers. I would also like to thank Mike Carney, Sally Craig and Beth Sliwinski who all stepped down from the PCC having completed their three-year terms of office. At the meeting, alongside the traditional APCM report, we launched a new style colour report produced by Dan Tarrant. Please do take one to give to a friend.
Part of my APCM presentation was to begin to map out preparations for the forthcoming interregnum:
Mon 3 June―PCC Meeting with the Archdeacon
Tues 4 June―PCC Preparations begin
Sun 23 June―Gary and Gillian’s last Sunday during which there will be services at 8am and 10am with refreshments. More details will follow
Mon 15 July―PCC Meeting with the Archdeacon
This month I also want to comment further on the House of Bishops’ role in relation to the ‘Loving and Living Faithfully’ project on Human Identity, Sexuality and Marriage.
All Saints Ecclesall has long aspired to being a church which welcomes all people. Inspired by orthodox Biblical beliefs, our welcome aims to be generous, empathetic and respectful to everyone while also upholding traditional teaching in relation to marriage and sexuality.
The Christian faith is a revealed faith and within the Church of England, the role of the House of Bishops is to interpret the Bible in matters of doctrine and ethics. In July 2018 the House of Bishop’s initiated work on a new teaching document on sexuality and marriage to be commended to the whole church early in 2020.
It is our intention that we fully engage with the teaching document ‘Loving and Living Faithfully’ as commended by the Bishops. At the same time we will want to learn from the discernment process of a similar church in Edinburgh now that the Episcopal Church of Scotland permits same sex marriages. We will also welcome recommendations for reading from a breadth of theological views.
I am not expecting to change our orthodox theological stance but will want to engage with the teaching document with integrity. There will be much for us to learn, and it may prompt a review of our approach to pastoral ministry. Prior to 2020 the teaching ministry of All Saints will continue to follow the 2014 House of Bishops House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/house-bishops-pastoral-guidance-same-sex-marriage. Not least because this accords with our ordination vows and our vows of canonical obedience to the Bishop of Sheffield.
When matters of sexuality and identity are planned for the youth programme, teaching will be in accordance with the 2014 guidance and will be delivered by one of the clergy, most probably Dan Christian given his overall responsibility for children, youth and families ministry. Out of respect for parents, they will be given a least a month’s notice of the teaching. Dan will plan to acknowledge the ongoing debate within the Church of England and the diversity of theological views within All Saints.
All Saints is a spiritual home to people from a wide range of theological and church backgrounds. Indeed the extract from our identity document, posted in the welcome area and on the website, makes clear that we are a church which welcomes Christians from other traditions and, where there is space for doubt and disagreement. It is my heartfelt prayer that this will continue to be so. The next 18 months are likely to be quite turbulent for the Diocese of Sheffield as well as the wider Church of England. At the same time matters of gender, identity and sexuality have touched some of our church families very deeply. My colleagues and I request that as a whole church family we make a priority of caring, listening and praying for each other, particularly where we hold a difference of views. We very specifically request that All Saints does not become a place where church family members set out to campaign for their views from whatever perspective. In the meantime I intend to keep you informed about any updates from the House of Bishops.
Most of all, I pray that we ‘spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching’.
Yours in the service of Christ Jesus
Gary Wilton, Vicar