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From the Vicarage - May


At our Annual Parochial Church Meeting (held a couple of weeks before Easter) I shared with those present my own passion for one of the key characteristics of what it means to be both a member of the Church of England and a local leader of a Parish Church.

The clue is in that easily misunderstood word – ‘Parochial’. The Church of England is a patchwork of Parishes which covers the whole country – every square inch or square centimetre of ground! That means that everyone belongs to a Parish, and has access to, or indeed the right to, the ministry of their Parish Church – the Church ‘on the ground’ where they live!

People often think that we choose to belong, and of course many who call ourselves Christians do choose to commit to a deeper level of belonging to our church and to the life of the church – but in another sense everyone belongs simply because they are in the Parish, and because this is their Parish Church!

I am always delighted when I am asked by anyone who lives in Collingham or Harewood (the ground or the patch covered by St Oswald’s) whether they are able to have their child baptised here, or to be married here, or to hold a loved one’s funeral here…because the answer is “Yes, Yes, Yes” – that is what we are here for!

 

As well as being a Parish here ‘on this patch of ground’, each Parish also belongs to a Diocese – a larger geographical area within which more centralised administrational and organisational structures exists to support and resource our Parishes. This year is the 10th Anniversary of the renewed Diocese of Leeds. Following the dissolution of the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield our present Diocese of Leeds came into being at Easter 2014, and since then has covered the whole of West Yorkshire, the western part of North Yorkshire, and small parts of South Yorkshire, Lancashire, and County Durham. ‘On the ground’ that equates to around 2,425 square miles, a population of around 2,642,400, around 600 church buildings in 444 parishes and 239 Church of England schools and academies. 

For the whole 10 years The Rt Revd Nick Baines has been our Diocesan Bishop, whilst our area Bishop (there are 5 episcopal areas - Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield), is The Rt Revd Anna Eltringham, Bishop of Ripon.

 

Like all large organisations and institutions our Diocese has numerous strategies, objectives, and plans. But at its heart is the three worded strap-line: - Loving, Living, Learning.

They are of course not unique or even particularly remarkable words, but they remind us that we seek to be people and communities, ‘on the ground’, who….

Love God, the world and one another;

Live in the world as it is, but, drawn by a vision of something better,

want to help individuals and communities flourish;

Learn when we get things wrong, by listening and growing together.

 

Carolyn  (Vicar)

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