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Advent 2023 Pastoral Letter

Posted on the 30th November 2023 in the Category - News


The Feast of St Andrew

 

Dear Friends,

 

It is twelve months to the day since I was consecrated bishop to serve the Church as a “shepherd of Christ’s flock”, a “guardian of the faith” and a “chief pastor”, “following the example of the prophets and the teaching of the apostles”, to use just a few of the words and images from the Ordinal.

 

These past twelve months have been filled with new encounters, many joys, inevitable mistakes, and some sadness.  They have, however, been overwhelmingly good.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  I hope you have felt supported and prayed for too – as your shepherd, guardian and pastor I long to know you better and, as year succeeds year, I hope that will become the case.

 

Advent

And so it is that the new liturgical season begins in a few days’ time when we turn our minds, hearts, worship and mission towards Advent with our preparation to receive Him again as the Incarnate Lord.  I hope that you will have a joyful Advent (December commercialism aside) and a beautiful Christmastide. 


If you’re looking for something extra to read during Advent or Christmastide, I recommend Pope Francis’ book I am Asking in the Name of God.  Compiled to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his papacy in May 2023, the Holy Father presents ten prayers in the form of short essays addressing the most pressing issues of our generation.  I doubt you will find a new ethical issue to be troubled by, but you may gain a new perspective or insight - or discover a fresh way of putting prayer into action.

 

Living in Love and Faith

One prayer that we must work hard at in the Church of England (and beyond) is our participation in our Lord’s desire for the unity of his people.  When the Church is united, she is a better advocate for unity within and between nations and communities.  The Living in Love and Faith process in the Church of England has borne some positive fruit, but it has also unearthed deep divisions that if we’re not careful will tear us apart as has happened in other parts of the Anglican Communion and sister denominations. 

 

More will be said about this in the months and years ahead and the Bishops of The Society will issue their statements and advice when appropriate. The timing of our comments will be difficult to discern because the national conversation takes many twists and turns.  

In the meantime, it is worth reminding ourselves that through our common baptism we are all members of the Body of Christ and, with Jesus as our Head, we are invited to grow in holiness: But, just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written ‘be holy, because I am holy’. (1 Peter 1 v 15 -16)

 

As Christians who look to the See of Beverley and The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda for pastoral and sacramental care, one of our purposes is to “promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England” - www.sswsh.com/aboutus.php  “Catholic” means that which is held universally.  The Bishops of The Society are pleased that the House of Bishops and General Synod have reaffirmed their commitment to the universally accepted doctrine of marriage as being between one man and one woman.  If you are wrestling with the doctrine of marriage from a personal, pastoral or theological perspective please feel free to be in touch with me.  In the meantime, as the whole Church continues to engage with new insights and fresh “pastoral eyes” into human identity, gender and sexuality please be patient and please be prayerful.  It is so much easier for us to focus our discourse on “acts or desires of the flesh” because that is where wider western culture situates itself.  But the more difficult and counter-cultural call to holiness enables us to bear the “fruits of the Spirit” against which there is no law – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5 v 22)


Vocations Network

I hope it goes without saying that all the baptised have a vocation to serve Christ according to their individual gifts.  Most dioceses have very good teaching and enabling programmes for lay vocational development and I am continuing my discussions with a handful of people about lay ministry in the See of Beverley.  It also goes without saying that we need more ordained priests: the Vocations Network is a good starting point for those interested in exploring priestly ministry in the catholic tradition of the Church of England - www.vocationsnetwork.org  St George’s Preston also runs a programme for people considering their vocation.  A conversation with Fr David Craven about the Preston Experience might be worthwhile for some - www.sgp.org.uk

 

Mission Network

A new website aimed at helping parishes with mission is the Mission Resource Hub, a single place for Anglo-Catholic Parishes to access materials and resources to enable and support mission and evangelism and it does what it says on the tin! - www.catholicmission.net   It is designed primarily as a resource hub so that ideas can be shared, tried and tweaked for the benefit of us all.  Do have a look at it and maybe even contribute.

 

2024 Save the Dates

 

**Northern Provincial Festival - 27 July 2024, 11am, York Minster.  It would be wonderful if we could fill the Minster for a Festival Mass with people from every Society parish in the Province of York.  Book coaches and cars and make a day of it in the beautiful city of York.  More details will follow in the New Year.  Please make this a priority.**

 

Beverley Clergy Quiet Days – 15th February, 1 May and 21 October.  10am to 3pm with me at St Peter’s Church, Woolley, WF4 2JU.  Invitations will follow nearer the time.

Chrism Masses – 24 March, St Aidan’s Sunderland, 25th March St Jude’s Hexthorpe and 26th March Manchester Cathedral.

 

May you be blessed this Advent and may the grace of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit go before you.

 

 

+ Stephen Beverley



Conference on The Life and Thought of E L Mascall

Posted on the 13th October 2023 in the Category - News


The Life and Thought of E L Mascall

Pusey House, Oxford
8th and 9th November 2023

The Centre for Theology, Law and Culture is holding a conference in Oxford on the 8th and 9th November 2023, dedicated to the life and thought of the great twentieth century Anglo-Catholic priest and theologian E.L. Mascall.

 

More information here.

 



September 2023 Pastoral Letter

Posted on the 8th September 2023 in the Category - News


8 September 2023


Dear Friends,

 

May the Peace of our Risen and Ascended Lord be with you!

 

This day and date is important for three reasons at least, but probably many more.


First, this letter comes to you as we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the one so filled with grace that she was able to be the God-Bearer and so participate in the redemption of mankind. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord!” “Be it unto me according to thy word.”
May that grace that filled her life, be present in you and me today.


Second, because it is the anniversary of the death of our late Queen, Elizabeth II. I suspect that most of us will remember where we were when we heard the news while the nation held its breath and slipped into silent mourning. When we remember her, we give thanks to God for her Christian faith and His grace that was so evident in her life. Today, while we remember her, we pray too for her son, King Charles III, that he may daily be renewed by the Holy Spirit and that his reign may be one of grace-filled service to this nation and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The third reason is more personal, for it is on this date a year ago that I learned that HM the Queen had approved my nomination as the next Bishop of Beverley. The email arrived in my Inbox just a few hours before her death. Please pray for me as I continue in this ministry. I will pray for you too as you continue to serve God in your varying contexts.


There will be a number of other reasons why this date is special to the Church, to nations and individuals. During every 24 hour period so much happens that there are countless anniversaries observed in countless ways across the world. But all those anniversaries, whether they be celebrations or laments, have their origin and source in the One who came amongst us as God-made-Man, Jesus Christ.


Not all people may subscribe to the Christian Faith, or indeed to any faith or creed, but that does not mean that God fails to love and care for us all. Time and time again we read in Holy Scripture that God is the first-mover in all relationships: “We love because he first loved us” is how St John summarizes this reality (1 John 4 v 19). It is that love which is at the very centre of today’s celebration of the Virgin’s birth.


Because of God’s love, He came amongst us as Jesus the Son. That same love prepared Mary to be the His Mother, the God-Bearer. That same loved prepared her parents, St Joachim and St Anna, enabling them to nurture her. And so it is that we too may look back on our lives to discover people and situations where grace had gone before us and prepared that way for us to receive the knowledge of Jesus and the salvation that comes with it. A sobering thought is that we may be being used as the preparatory vessel of grace who enables someone else to encounter Jesus.


I continue to be inspired and encouraged by the many parishes and people I visit. Amongst those who look to the See of Beverley for sacramental and pastoral care, there is a tangible faith expressed and strengthen through worship, pilgrimage and public service. I give thanks to God for you all.


Slightly later than planned, you will shortly be receiving a request for Episcopal visits next year: I hope to meet and visit new people and places, as well as those whom I have had the pleasure of seeing already. Please plan ahead for Confirmation dates, but don’t set anything in stone until you have heard back from me. Don’t worry about the “three-month rule” I proposed last time I wrote to you: I’ve listened!
At the end of June I had a very productive meeting with my Representatives in the Dioceses of the Northern Province. There are embryonic plans for a Northern Festival to be held in York Minster in the Summer of 2024, as well as quiet days for clergy and vocations days for those discerning some form of authorised public ministry. I hope to publish these plans before too long.


There is a Vocations Conference for men considering ordained priestly ministry in London on 20 – 22 October 2023: please look at the Additional Curates Society website (Vocations Conference 2023 – Additional Curates Society) or email info@additionalcurates.co.uk to find out more.


One theme emerges in almost every parish visit or discussion I have – and that is mission and its relationship to our finances. There is no easy answer to the many complexities that face us at the moment, but one book that may be inspirational is Fr James Mallon’s “Thriving Faith: Discipleship in uncertain times” published in 2022 addressing the post-Covid church. Although his context is the Catholic Church in Canada there is much that resonates with us and so I commend it to you. It’s not just a book for clergy, but for all who wish to see the church flourish.
If you want something else to make you think about faith and the human condition, I re-read Ernest Hemingway’s “For whom the Bell Tolls” while on my summer holiday. It’s heavy going in places, but the conversation around faith in adverse situations weaves through almost every page. Something more light-hearted, but equally informative about the universal human condition is a delightful little book by Alex Bescoby: “The Last Overland: 21,000 km, 23 countries and One Very Old Land Rover” tells the story of the 2019 adventure of driving from Singapore to London in a Land Rover, in the same vehicle that drove the First Overland from London to Singapore in 1955. Apart from anything else, it reminds readers in a fun way how the world has changed. It made me pray for the church and people in countries I will probably never visit. Above all, it reminded me to lift my eyes to see a different horizon. (If I’m honest, it also sated my love for old Land Rovers. I remain convinced Jesus would have asked for one if a donkey hadn’t been available!)


What ever we do and wherever we find ourselves may we at all times and in all places find ourselves fixed to the Cross of Christ, carrying it as Our Lord asks, not as a burden, but liberated and strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that through our witness others may come to know God as Father.


May the grace of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit go before you.

 

 

 

+ Stephen Beverley



Walsingham Festival in Horden 2023

Posted on the 10th August 2023 in the Category - News





Catholic Evangelism Lecture 2023

Posted on the 7th August 2023 in the Category - News





 

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