Weekly News from the Diocese

Diocese of Monmouth Esgobaeth Mynwy

Friday Update from Bishop Cherry

Dear Friends,

Amongst the many things that we have not been able to do as a result of the lockdown is to work together on a renewed Vision for the diocese. We had plans in place to begin this process of envisioning, part of which was to be a day conference in June, but it has all had to be put on hold until we can begin to gather groups together to meet and discuss in the same room.

Until we have a clear diocesan vision, the Bishop’s Staff Team and the Diocesan Communications Officer have agreed three broad themes that we will focus our energy and attention on in terms of our website and our messaging on social media platforms. They are: 

Eco Church – being good stewards of the earth and its resources
Social Justice – addressing not just poverty, but the causes of poverty
Diversity and Inclusion – ensuring that we are a church for everybody. 

These three themes sit nicely within the Anglican Church’s Five Marks of Mission which are

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation

Over the next three weeks, I will be unpacking each of these themes in turn as a way of helping us to focus our prayer, reflection and discussion as well as our communications with one another and those who may be interested in who we are and what we stand for. 

On another matter, we would like to draw up a list of churches that offer services of healing. If healing services are part of your church’s ministry, please let the Revd. Beverley Smith know at beverleyatciw@btinternet.com 

Let us continue to pray for one another as we begin to open up our church buildings for private prayer and prepare for the time when we can gather together for worship once again.
Live-streamed Services & Reflections: Catch up on Bishop Cherry’s Tuesday reflection here.

Join a Sunday Eucharist from Archdeacon Jonathan at 11am here.
 OrdinationCongratulations to Liz Houghton who was ordained last week in a very special service, you can watch it here.Diocesan re-opening church buildings grant scheme – deadline extendedWe will be keeping this grant open for applications until the end of July.
Please click here to view the application form with more information.As more of our church buildings begin opening we want to thank all the volunteers and clergy who are working hard to make this possible.Finance Communication

An email has been sent to Treasurers today, if you haven’t received it please contact libbymorgan-owen@churchinwales.org.ukZoom Safe User Guide
The Church in Wales have put together a brief guide on working safely with Zoom, check it out here.Welcoming our school children back to their school buildings!
Our schools have welcomed back their pupils this week, through carefully considered rotas and staggered starts/finishes, punctuated with regular hand washing while maintaining social distancing.  We’ve seen some great updates from our schools on social media and are delighted and humbled by how well our school leaders have put huge efforts into ensuring our schools are not only as safe as possible, but also as welcoming as possible.
As a diocese we are deeply heartened and grateful to see our head teachers, senior leaders and staff leading our school communities in such an affirming and Christian way – real ministry, through such challenging times.Leavers’ Gifts and Bishop Cherry’s message for our Year 6s!We are conscious that our Year 6 pupils are having a very different type of transition experience this year.  We were deeply disappointed to be unable to have our Diocesan Leavers’ Services which are usually a festival of worship and celebration and a highlight of our year. 

However, we have done something else instead!  We’ve sent our diocesan leavers’ gifts in parcels to each school along with a video message from Bishop Cherry.  Each child will receive a small olive wood cross on cord as a reminder of how much God loves them and how much they are valued as part of God’s family within our diocese.

We know that our schools are exploring innovative and meaningful ways to celebrate this important time in Year 6s lives and look forward to hearing how Bishop Cherry’s message and our diocesan gifts are being incorporated into those plans.  You can watch Bishop Cherry’s message to the Year 6 children here and read her letter here.

 Religious Education in our schools and changes ahead – message to our clergyAn important and significant consultation that will determine the future of Religious Education in our schools in Wales is currently in progress (deadline 28th July).  Our Provincial Director of Education, Diocesan Directors of Education and Bishops have all been involved in discussions and decisions around this.  As the Diocesan Director of Education for our diocese, I have already communicated with schools and school governing bodies about this.  See here for the link: https://gov.wales/legislative-proposals-religion-values-and-ethics

Bishop Cherry and I are also asking our clergy to respond, since the direction taken here is significantly relevant within our collaborative ministry as a whole. 

Therefore we respectfully ask clergy to look out for a further communication early next week which will provide an overview and some guidance and a sincere request that you add your voice to the conversation in order to ensure that the Church in Wales is clearly heard in the response.  As a well-known retailer often emphasises: Every little helps!

Annette Daly (Dr)
Diocesan Director of EducationSpotlight

Taking a closer look at things with views from across the diocese.

This week Rev James Henley from Cyncoed Ministry Area looks at online mission and finding new audiencesIt has been really exciting to see how so many Ministry Areas have risen to the challenge of online ministry in so many different ways during this period of lockdown. In particular, to see the number and variety of different forms of worship now being offered online.

One of the things I’ve been wondering is how we might continue to use online spaces, not just to maintain our existing ministry and services, but for mission. How can we find real and meaningful ways to engage with those in our wider communities, beyond the usual ‘reach’ of our church communities?

I think there might be insights from physical pioneer ministry and fresh expressions, which can be combined with the world of social media influencers, to help us.

1. Do what you love, and use it to connect with others.
One of the reasons that many online creators are so successful is they begin with a hobby or an interest that they are passionate about, and build community with others who also enjoy it. I wonder whether you have interests, which might seem completely outside the world of church and ministry, but that are also shared by others? Could your passion and enthusiasm become a way to connect with others, you might otherwise have never come across?

2. Find the right platform and invite others to join you.
Finding the right social media platform is really important to help you connect with the right people. Perhaps you could connect using a new Facebook page or group? An Instagram or TikTok account? A Facebook or YouTube live video series?

Two examples that I’ve been giving a go over the last week: (1) A ‘Lockdown Photography’ Facebook Group, sharing my passion for photography with others, with a weekly photo challenge, where in the future potentially the best photos could be published on an Instagram account. And, (2) A gaming livestream on YouTube with my daughter where we play Nintendo Switch together as a reward for her completing her (home)school work.

3. Co-create with your new community, bringing your own authentic perspective.
There’s a saying amongst some social media creators: ‘The community IS the content.’ Whatever you are doing will have far more impact if there’s built in participation with your online ‘audience’. But there’s also the chance to bring in your own faith perspective as well. After all, ‘being true to who you are’ is a prized value to social media communities.

I hope there is something in these simple steps and examples that might inspire you to try something new, alongside your existing online ministry provision. What are you passionate about or interested in? And how could you share it with others as a way to connect and grow new  community online?

Why not give it a try? Regardless of how well it works out, I guarantee you will have a lot of fun in the process!
This month Bishop Cherry will be taking part in a Q&A video, but we still need more questions. If you’d like to ask her a question please email debragoddard@churchinwales.org.uk.
Questions can be on any topic, silly or serious! We’d love for questions to be sent in a video format, but if this is a problem, please send in your written question and it may be read out during the Q&A. Rhymney Valley Foodbank JobThe Rhymney Valley Foodbank, a ministry within the Upper Islwyn Ministry Area, has secured funding to employ a full-time Foodbank Manager for 1 year.  If you would like to receive an application pack please contact: info@rhymneyvalley.foodbank.org.uk , or for an informal conversation please ring Rev Leah Philbrick on 01443 820 778.  Deadline for application 17th JulyBBC Young Chorister of the YearSongs of Praise and BBC Radio 2 have joined forces to find The BBC Young Chorister Of The Year. Former choristers Aled Jones and Katherine Jenkins will coach the 5 boys and 5 girls aged 10-16 who are selected to go through to the radio and television competition, where they will sing in front of an expert panel of judges.The competition launched on 21st June and singers have until midnight on Monday 20th July to submit their entries. The recording will be at The Monastery in Manchester in mid-September. Singers apply online by submitting two short films of themselves singing a Christmas carol or song and a sacred song such as a hymn, classical solo, spiritual, inspirational, gospel or worship song.The winning chorister will receive a trophy, appear on future BBC Radio programmes and on Songs of Praise and have a recording session with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.Click here to apply onlineMore details here:
bbc.co.uk/songsofpraisebbc.co.uk/radio2Children, Families & Young Peoples Resources
 Cyncoed Ministry Area – Online Sunday School
The Lost Sheep
Check out this week’s Sunday School here.
To join the Zoom Sunday school email matt@cyncoedministryarea.org.uk or join on Facebook here at 2pm on Sunday.
 St Teilos High School are providing weekly services for young people, you can catch up with previous services and watch this week’s here.Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary School have lots of child friendly services available here.Mainly Music
For this session you will need two shakers and something that will become ‘long ears’ for your head. https://vimeo.com/429870410/5126ddcef1
And for this session you’ll need one or two cardboard rolls.
https://youtu.be/AjPOlfLTrdU Care for the Family
Care for the Family’s Kitchen Table Project is supporting churches and their work with families, watch their video here.
And find more of their resources here.Scripture Union
Scripture Union have a variety of resources available for children and young people, including daily craft and prayer activities and mental health resources. Check them out here.There are lots more amazing resources for children and families available on our website here.For a downloadable and printable version of this email please click here.

You can find the one-stop-shop for all you need to know and this week’s updates here.