Swinging searchlights: Sheffield and scrutiny

Version 4Here in Sheffield, our acting diocesan, Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster has asked for a deep sensitivity, inner searching and prayerful period to continue for our togetherness in the communities of this diocese within the Church of England. We now enter 8 days of prayer and the prayer resource is impressively useful for any in the Diocese of Sheffield. Bishop Peter has called church wardens and ministers in the Diocese of Sheffield, from the areas of Goole, Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley, Dinnington and Sheffield to gather for a Chrism Eucharist on the Monday of Holy Week to conclude this period.

Meanwhile, other searchlights have been swinging attention, from Archbishops writing to the Independent Reviewer for the legislation giving space for women as well as men to serve in the episcopate. Some analysis has been about Mutual Flourishings and the Five Guiding Principles, as Radio 4’s Sunday Programme gave attention to (26 March).

The lights have captured, via Andrew Lightbown, intersections between different kinds of episcopal appointments, in Wales and not just Sheffield, but even Oxford’s struggle, previously, to appoint. Light has also been shone on how the political settlement of power has shifted between clergy, bishops and lay-perspectives on what the church has been, what it is and how it can become what it needs to be, see, for instance, Linda Woodhead, Rhian Taylor and Archbishop Cranmer blog.

These are not the searchlights connected to violent struggle, victims and perpetrators, unlike that hastily constructed BBC article that reported it like a war, or perhaps the talk of attacks, still undocumented. In fact the undocumented nature of things is something that the SAME collective has, since it began on 25 February 2017 has been eager to redress. We began by speaking out and asking how many wanted to publicly and yet discreetly say how pastorally concerned we were in Sheffield about the unexpected way the nomination announcement for the See of Sheffield had plunged so many of us into shock, grief and disbelief.