The first of 12 ‘Visitation Services’, centred on the theme of ‘hope’ and led by the Archdeacons of Blackburn and Lancaster, take place across the Diocese next week and continue throughout May.
An important part of The Church of England in Lancashire’s annual calendar of events, the Visitation Services include the official admittance to office of Churchwardens for the coming year.
Local clergy from each of the 14 Deanery areas will also attend the services. Members of the local church PCCs (ruling bodies) are also invited to attend.
The list of times, dates and venues for each Deanery can be found at the end of the Archdeacons' Annual (Deanery) Visitations page.
The Archdeacons will deliver a special sermon, called a ‘Charge’ during which they will offer advice and encouragement to parishes and especially the Churchwardens and sidespeople.
The latest edition of the churchwardens’ must-read publication Archdeacons’ Visitation News (AVN) will also be distributed to everyone who attends. This annual printed publication, produced by the Diocese in conjunction with Ecclesiastical Insurance, is also available on the Diocesan website.
As well as giving churchwardens important legal and practical advice on managing their parish church effectively, this year’s edition of AVN also features the latest news about the Diocesan Vision, ‘Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’ and where and how to get help from staff at the Diocesan offices in Blackburn.
Key upcoming events are also promoted, such as Churchwardens’ Briefings for new wardens in June; ‘Supporting Our People’ with HR Manager Andy Cooke and Safeguarding Adviser Sharon Hassall in July and ‘Get Your Church Noticed with Diocesan Communications Manager Ronnie Semley in October.
The Diocese of Blackburn (The Church of England in Lancashire) is split into two Archdeaconries: the Archdeaconry of Blackburn in the south and the Archdeaconry of Lancaster further north.
The Venerable Michael Everitt is the Archdeacon of Lancaster and The Venerable Mark Ireland is The Archdeacon of Blackburn.
The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, who is the Diocesan Bishop, delegates administrative authority to the Archdeacon for each area. The Archdeacons also play a major role in the pastoral care of the clergy and volunteers in the churches in their Archdeaconry.
Speaking today Archdeacon Michael said: “Churchwardens and sidepeople are trusted to lead and care for the activities of the church as committed members of their local church community.
“They toil away very often unseen so these Visitations are our chance to thank them in person and assure them of how much they are valued for all they do.”
Archdeacon Mark added: “Churchwardens take on leadership and care responsibilities that require much prayer and support in their parish and also prayer from all of us across the Diocese.
“That need for prayer is at the heart of the annual Visitations and we shall take the opportunity to pray with and for all the churchwardens that God will strengthen them in everything they do.”