MOTHERING SUNDAY: with resources

I love this poem by Malcolm Guite, which especially celebrates single mums and the amazing job so many of them do.  As always, you can hear Malcolm reading his poem if you click on the title.  I’ve also added some links to resources.

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Mothering Sunday 

At last, in spite of all, a recognition,

For those who loved and laboured for so long,

Who brought us, through that labour, to fruition

To flourish in the place where we belong.

A thanks to those who stayed and did the raising,

Who buckled down and did the work of two,

Whom governments have mocked instead of praising,

Who hid their heart-break and still struggled through,

The single mothers forced onto the edge

Whose work the world has overlooked, neglected,

Invisible to wealth and privilege,

But in whose lives the kingdom is reflected.

Now into Christ our mother church we bring them,

Who shares with them the birth-pangs of His Kingdom.

(Malcolm Guite)



Click to access SAAW002-Mothering-Sunday-Honour-your-parents.pdf

And a Godly Play approach:



The Diaconate

A deacon is someone who has pledged themselves to the service of Jesus Christ and His Church, and has been selected, trained and ordained according to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of Scotland.

The office of deacon is recognised by the Church to be a distinctive, life-long office within the ministry of the Church, and to be agreeable to the Word of God.

What is the role of a Deacon?

Deacons have been ministering within the Church of Scotland for more than 120 years. At present there are 58 deacons in active service, the majority of whom work in parishes.

Deacons tend to serve in areas of great need and scarce resources. They discern the gifts and the needs of the community; work with individuals and groups at grassroots level, nurture relationships, offer pastoral support, training and education; build bridges between church and world; and contextualise the gospel in our daily lives.

In your ministry as a deacon … be ready to be a pioneer, revealing needs not fully acknowledged, bringing to light injustices easy to overlook, pointing to tasks most avoid. May your work encourage and enable the church to discover new patterns of service, and challenge it to raise a prophetic voice against those things that destroy community and deaden the spirit. Build bridges between church and world, that gifts may be shared to the benefit of each, and that people in all situations may know that the Gospel speaks to them.

Church of Scotland’s Ordinal and Service Book

Good to bone up before the DIAKONIA conference in June! If you fancy meeting up with deacons from all over the world, and listening to John Bell, then this is the conference for you:


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We see so little, stayed on surfaces,

We calculate the outsides of all things,

Preoccupied with our own purposes

We miss the shimmer of the angels’ wings,

They coruscate around us in their joy

A swirl of wheels and eyes and wings unfurled,

They guard the good we purpose to destroy,

A hidden blaze of glory in God’s world.

But on this day a young girl stopped to see

With open eyes and heart. She heard the voice;

The promise of His glory yet to be,

As time stood still for her to make a choice;

Gabriel knelt and not a feather stirred,

The Word himself was waiting on her word.


Malcolm Guite

DEACONS TALK (1): town centre ministry

I have permission to reproduce a recent Whatsapp discussion between deacons involved in this vital ministry.  I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.  It is conversations like these that show how crucial a deacon’s contribution is.

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Deacon David Bean (Southwell diocese)

So, 8 months into curacy yr 1 I am thinking about yr 2. The theory is that I spend an increasing proportion of my time outside of church (30% of my time now, rising to 50% then 70%).

My curacy title includes “town centre mission” – but the parish doesn’t include that area (long story). I have a clear sense of town centre ministry in this context looking like chaplaincy. What do others think?

Are any of you involved in such chaplaincy? Would anyone like to share ideas, resources, etc?

Prayers would be appreciated as I try and scope this out.

Deacon Alison Handcock, Bath and Wells:

I am not involved in this but I know Taunton have a town chaplaincy team that works really well. They are happy to speak to people about it or host a visit. Chaplains commit to visiting shops, businesses etc and recently set up a chaplaincy to serve the train station. Could Street pastors possibly be a model for some kind of daytime chaplaincy; listening to people in the town centre alongside a coffee drop-in?

Deacon Paul Hollingworth, Winchester

Like it Alison.
I’ve just started a project to map current volunteer, charities and churches support working in the town. The aim is to bring them together using the Abbey (Romsey Abbey) as a focal point as it is already a centre for the town community. This is to see if we can share volunteer resources so to best channel the effort instead of each organisation doing their own thing and struggling to get enough workers. This is all under the auspice of pastoral care in the community. Main focus being disadvantaged, bereaved, mental health etc.

Deacon Cheryl Belding, St Edmundsbury and Ipswich:

Me too Alison. I am also trying things along that line. I go into our town and visit as many places as I can even as a shop browser I h ave people talking to me. Cafes are a great place. We have a day centre which I go to once a week. I wish you well it is a slow process though. I know of one retired priest with PTO who thinks I do not do very much. Then when I am out for any reason I am touched by the amount of people who speak to me. Mission outside a church isn’t always as visual as in a church but I believe it spreads far and wide to places we may never know it has reached. Every prayer and blessing


Forgot one thing we also do is hold a mental health drop in coffee afternoon each Monday in our local Cafe Nero who let us use part of their upper floor.

Deacon Gill Kimber, Exeter

Well said, Cheryl. I’m always saying to our pioneers here ‘don’t expect anything to happen soon!’ What matters is that slow building of recognition, relationships and trust which are the basis for anything else. It can be uphill work with minuscule steps forward and sometimes heartbreaking as well as exhilarating. But I believe it’s the front line of the church’s mission so may the Holy Spirit put wind in ALL your sails! ⛵


Thank you Gill. It can also feel a little isolating so the encouragement, ideas, support and all the things that come from this link are so welcome and valued.

Deacon Dave Hobman, York:

I have been “working the streets” here in York for around four years now. Initially involved with the homeless etc but now also the lonely elderly. This usually takes the form of meeting them at coffee shops and getting them to sit with others who are similarly lonely. This is a slow process but now have two groups of around twelve people each who meet regularly for coffee and chat, one coffee shop even provided a free Christmas party for them! I have also become chaplain to the local over 60s drop in cafe, collecting dishes and sitting talking to anyone who wants to. They have also got me to do a blessing every Monday morning to include the facilities and volunteers. We started a prayer box and after a slow start this is starting to get regular offerings
Like others I am often stopped in the streets by people who want to talk.
It all takes time (literally sometimes taking me a couple of hours to walk across the centre of York) but also a long period of time to develop the ministry.
All I can say to sum up is – I am always busy and always feel that Christ is beside me as I listen to the problems people bring to me from their private lives
City centre chaplaincy is hard work and time consuming but spiritually uplifting, although you definitely need a spiritual adviser at time to off load to!


So good to hear all that Dave. I feel energised by the chance encounters even if my feet do not agree. ! Keep walking 🐾👟

Dave Hobman:

Glad to pass this on Gill, I am a great advocate for street ministry and see it as one of the churches’ major input to the average person who does not necessarily attend church or even believe.
I have a very old, but comfortable pair of boots. I also go for comfort clothing wise, being in engineering for most of my life I am usually found in jeans, denim shirt, old hat and of course dog collar. This form of dress appears to work well as it allows me to meet people at their level rather than being looked up as “the vicar”


This is all so encouraging! I have recently been walking our local estate in the mornings (initially to keep myself sane!) but I am amazed and encouraged by what could be considered as God ‘interruptions’!

David Bean:

Such encouraging comments! I have started prayer walking a local estate, too… Its been a transformative experience!

I wonder if any of you who are involved in estates or town centre ministry might be prepared to share relevant excerpts from role descriptions with me?

(If you’d like to contact David please ask for his contact details via the comments or an email to as I don’t want to publicise his personal email here and will send it privately – Ed.)

Dave Hobman:

I am in London at the moment going to talk with one of the London livery companies with the hope of getting some funding for the homeless in York. I also have to eat a big lunch and drink some decent wine in the process. Obviously not in jeans today!!

The two Davids:

David Bean Southwell: Dave, could I come and meet with you in York? Its only a short hop from where I am in Retford.
Dave Hobman York: No problem, let me have some dates and we can arrange a meeting.

(Deacons cross-fertilising ideas !  Love it!)

Juliet Gosling-Brown, Bath and Wells, ordinand:

I can relate to this kind of ministry – I wrote in my Sarum interim term report that I feel more called to be outside a church building than inside…was worried to write this but I think your town centre/street ministry confirms that I should.🙏thank you.

If anybody would like to sign up to the GoDeacons Whatsapp group and join the conversations, please email me at with your mobile number.




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More about David Clark:

David Clark

David Clark is a Methodist deacon and a member of the Society of Friends. From 1973 – 1990 he was a senior lecturer in community education at Westhill College, Birmingham. During that time he became a leading figure in the Christian Community Movement, establishing the National Centre for Christian Communities and Networks. He set up the Christians in Public Life Programme in the early 1990s. In 1997 he founded the Human City Institute (Birmingham). He is the author of numerous books and articles on the nature of community, schools as learning communities and the mission of the church in today’s world.

David has a popular blog at

See David’s books here:


As deacons we are pretty starved of resources about our vocation and ministry.  But there’s good news.  Last year there was an international ecumenical conference on the diaconate in Saskatchewan:  see report here.

As a follow-up, a book is coming out in August this year with all the talks, to be called ‘The Diaconate in Ecumenical Perspective’,  published by Sacristy Press.  The speakers were all very experienced leading Episcopal deacons or people who have been involved with diaconal formation for many years.   They  include our own Canon Rosalind Brown, and English Methodist deacon David Clark.

You can view all the conference talks here:

(That should keep us quiet for a while!)

Read more details  in Deacon Michael Jackson’s latest letter:

Message to Conference Participants – March 2019-2



I’m indebted to #distinctivedeacon Gill Newman for sending me the Southwark Diocese IME Phase 2 Training Handbook for Distinctive Deacons.  Southwark is taking the diaconate seriously, and the handbook is pretty thorough and comprehensive as well as clear about (distinctive) deacons.

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Distinctive deacons are those who hear the call to this ministry, primarily of service, as those who inhabit the liminal space between the church and the world. They all called, above all, to embody the servant heart of Christ in their ministry and in their lives.

Well said.  It’s been put together by Dr Mandy Ford, canon chancellor at Southwark cathedral and interim director of ministry for the Church of England’s Ministry Division.

Do take a look.   I like its thoroughness and clarity but am disappointed that there is not sufficient emphasis on the distinctive elements of the diaconate. I’d be very interested to know what you think.

Southwark Dioceses IME Phase 2 Handbook 2017-2018[16700]



Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. Psalm 51

Mercy.  That’s what it’s all about.  As we begin Lent, a great place to start is with a better understanding of mercy.

Often when we think about Lent, we think of it with a sort of dread.  “I have to give something up,” we often think. But if that is our thought then we are missing the point.  Do I “have to” give something up?  Well, yes and no.  It’s true that God wills this and has spoken this practice of self-denial and self-discipline to us through His Church.  That is true.   But it’s much more of an invitation to grace than the imposition of a burden.

Giving something up is really all about entering into God’s abundant mercy on a deeper level.  It’s about being freed from all that binds us and it helps us experience the new life we so deeply seek.  Giving something up could refer to something as simple as fasting from a food or drink.  Or, it can be any intentional act that requires a certain self-denial. But this is good!  Why?  Because it strengthens us in our spirit and our will.  It strengthens us to be more resolved to say yes to God on that complete level.

So often in life we are controlled by our emotions and desires.  We have an impulse for this or that or to do this or that and we often let those impulses or desires control us. Entering into a practice of self-denial helps strengthen us to control our disordered tendencies rather than being controlled by them.  And this applies to much more than just food and drink.  It applies to many things in life including our life of virtue, especially our charity.

Mercy is all about charity.  It’s about love in the way God wants us to love.  It’s about being free to let love consume us and take us over so that, in the end, all we want to do is love. This can be a hard practice to establish in our lives but is the source of our joy and fulfillment.

Mercy, in particular, is an act of love that, in a sense, is not deserved by another.  It’s a free gift that is given purely from the motivation of love.  And this is exactly the love God gives us.  God’s love is all mercy.  And if we want to receive that mercy then we also have to give it.  And if we want to give it we need to properly dispose ourselves to giving mercy.  This is accomplished, in part, by our little acts of self-denial.

So make this a great Lent, but don’t get stuck thinking that the Lenten sacrifices are burdensome. They are one essential piece of the pathway to the life God wants to bestow upon us.

Lord, may this Lent be truly fruitful in my life.  May it be a grace and a joy to embrace all that You wish to bestow upon me.  Jesus, I do trust in You.


Orlande de Lassus, Penitential Psalm no. 1 (6:7) Performed by Schola Antiqua of Chicago Dir. Michael Alan Anderson “Music of the Hours”


Abbot Aelfric (955-ca. 1012), wrote and preached in the English language (Anglo-Saxon), as opposed to Latin (although he was a Latin scholar too).  He was an excellent, clear preacher:  we can still learn from his wisdom.

Here’s part of his sermon for Quinguagesima on Luke 18:31-43.  Don’t worry – it’s been translated! – and well worth reading. Note that the deacon reads the Gospel.

‘Here it is read in the gospel, which we heard just now from the deacon’s mouth, that the Saviour took his twelve disciples apart and said to them, “Behold, we shall go to the city of Jerusalem, and then all the things which were written about me by the prophets shall be fulfilled. I shall be betrayed to the Gentiles, and they shall mock me, and scourge me, and afterwards kill me, and I shall rise from death on the third day.” His disciples did not understand the meaning of these words. Then it happened that they came near to a city which is called Jericho, and a certain blind man sat there beside the road; and when he heard the passing of the people with the Saviour, he asked who went past there. They said to him that the Saviour was passing. Then he began to cry out, and said, “Saviour, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The men who were going in front of the Saviour chided the blind man to make him keep quiet. He cried much louder then, “Saviour, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then the Saviour stopped, and told them to lead the blind man to him. When he came near, the Saviour asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may see.” And the Saviour said to him, “Look now: your faith has healed you.” And he immediately saw, and followed the Saviour, and glorified him. Then all the people who saw that miracle glorified God with great fervour.

The beginning of this gospel touched on our Saviour’s passion, though he did not suffer at this time; but he wanted to make known his suffering to his disciples, from afar and long before, so that they would not be too afraid at his suffering, when the time came that he chose to suffer. Their minds were afraid at Christ’s saying, but he encouraged them again by the words he spoke: “I will rise from death on the third day.” Then he wanted to strengthen and confirm their faith with miracles. And they came then to the place where the blind man sat beside the road, and Christ healed him in the sight of all the multitude, so that by that miracle he might bring them to faith.

But the miracles which Christ worked manifested one thing by power, and betokened another thing by mystery. He worked those miracles, truly, through divine power, and with those miracles confirmed the people’s faith; but yet there was another thing hidden within those miracles, in a spiritual sense. This one blind man betokened all mankind, who were blinded through Adam’s sin, and thrust from the joy of Paradise and brought to this life, which is likened to a prison. Now we are shut out from the heavenly light, and we may not, in this life, enjoy the eternal light; nor do we know any more of it than we read in books, through Christ’s teaching. This world, though it may at times seem pleasant, is really no more like the eternal world than a prison is like the bright day. All mankind, as we said before, were blinded with lack of faith and error, but through Christ’s coming we were snatched up out of our errors and enlightened by faith. Now we have the light in our minds, that is Christ’s faith; and we have a hope of the joy of everlasting life, though we still dwell bodily in our prison.

The blind man did not pray for gold, or silver, or any worldly thing, but prayed for his sight. He did not think anything worth praying for except sight, because though the blind man may possess something, without light he cannot see what he has. Let us then imitate this man, who was healed by Christ, both in body and in soul: let us pray not for false riches, nor for transitory honours, but let us pray for light from our Lord; not for the light which will be ended, which will be driven away with the night, which is common to us and beasts, but let us pray for the light which we and the angels alone may see, which will never be ended. To that light, truly, our faith will bring us, as Christ said to the blind man: Look now, your faith has healed you.’