On Tuesday 1 March, Bishop Steven joined clergy and lay people in the Sonning Deanery for a day of listening and learning. Deanery clergy gathered for a Eucharist at St Mary’s Church Wargrave led by the Revd Steve Turville, Curate at the church. Bishop Steven spoke at the service, thanking the deanery clergy for their dedication to serving their congregations and communities over the past couple of years and acknowledging the strain of the pandemic on them.
“This journey has been a marathon. I have never witnessed anything as powerful as the way diocesan clergy have responded.”
Bearing the fruit
Over lunch, clergy had the opportunity to share their recent experiences of ministry and mission with Bishop Steven and ask questions about the diocese. Bishop Steven encouraged clergy to take care of themselves and one another and to take time to notice the areas where Jesus is at work.
“Be thankful for the modest fruit that we see, in the confidence that Jesus is at work in his Church. Take time to be patient and let the fruit bear.”
Many shared their concerns for Ukraine and the effects of inflation and the cost of living for low-income earners in their congregations and parishes. The Revd Steve Turville highlighted how they had grown a new young family’s congregation at St Mary’s Church during the pandemic despite the limitations of restrictions on church services and meetings.
The second part of the day saw Bishop Steven visit the Yeldall Manor Rehabilitation Centre. The Christian ethos organisation has been helping men for more than 40 years to overcome serious drug and alcohol addictions, return to society to live new lives free from addiction and crime, and build new relationships. Bishop Steven met with the Chief Executive, Treflyn Lloyd-Roberts, and Chris Wood, who went through the Yeldall programme himself as an alcoholic, became a Christian, and now works for the organisation.
The day ended with an evening meal with Lay Leaders from across the Sonning Deanery and a short service with the opportunity for PCCs to put questions to Bishop Steven and highlight their key concerns.
Bishop Steven is travelling to each deanery in the Diocese of Oxford this year to meet with and hear from local people and church leaders. Bishop Steven is visiting a range of community projects, schools, charities and more to hear about their important work and the growing mission and ministries of parishes across the Thames Valley.