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Throughout May, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, will hold four ‘Primary Visitations’ across Lancashire.

The special services are where all Churchwardens from parishes across the Diocese are formally sworn in as officers to allow them to fulfil this vital role.

The Bishop will also commission, or recommission, new and existing Parish Vision Champions.

The first group of Vision Champions (who have responsibility to encourage and drive forward local participation in the Diocesan Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities) have already served for three years, having been commissioned initially at a special Vision 2026 event at Preston Guild Hall in 2016.

Primary Visitations replace, for this year only, the regular Visitations led annually by The Venerable Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster and The Venerable Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn; although both Archdeacons will still be present at all the Primary Visitations.

Around 300 – 400 people are expected at each service, many of whom will be there to support officeholders and pray for them.

Copies of the annual publication ‘Archdeacons Visitation News’, containing invaluable information for churchwardens and their parishes, will be distributed as usual. 

Meanwhile, at each Primary Visitation Bishop Julian will also introduce his ‘Bishop’s Bible Challenge’. The Challenge is a key part of our current work as a Diocese to develop ‘whole-life disciples’ – which includes encouraging better knowledge of the Bible – an initiative which is supported by this YouTube video, featuring people of all ages and backgrounds from across Lancashire, first shown at the Diocesan Conference in September 2018.  

A new booklet, to encourage more engagement with the Bible and to help us to become better disciples, will be given to everyone who attends the Visitations.

‘Bishop’s Bible Challenge – Knowing The Scriptures Better’ is written by Ruth Hassall, our Director of Discipleship, with an introduction by Bishop Julian. It is packed with reading suggestions; memory verses; space to write reflections and more.

In his introduction Bishop Julian says: “At the heart of Vision 2026 lies the call for Christians to be first and foremost disciples of Jesus Christ."

“That entails, in part, a deeper commitment than attendance at services of public worship; a more generous giving of time, talents and money in promoting the Gospel and growing God’s Kingdom and a better knowledge of the Scriptures, which are God’s revelation of who He is, what He has done and what He requires."

“This booklet is intended as a guide to remind us afresh of the richness of the Bible, and its centrality and importance in the life of the Christian. Equally it is offered as an invitation for those wanting to begin to explore its beauty for the first time. I commend it to you.”

The booklet is free and parishes can order as many additional copies as they need free of charge by visiting this website page on Eventbrite.

To order, click the green 'Register' button, then click the green 'Checkout' button and you will be taken to the order form where you can specify the number you require and the arrangements for collection/delivery. Please note that we can only post out orders of 10 or less and ask that you make other arrangements for larger orders.

For further information about the Bible Challenge, which is now part of our ongoing focus on whole-life discipleship as a Diocese, you can visit this page on our Diocesan website. 

Venue details for the Primary Visitations are:

  • Blackburn with Darwen, Chorley and Leyland Deaneries, May 2, 7.30pm at St Paul’s Adlington, Chorley, PR6 9QZ
  • Garstang, Lancaster and Morecambe and Tunstall Deaneries, May 13, 7.30pm at St Thomas’, Lancaster, LA1 1XX
  • Accrington, Burnley, Pendle and Whalley Deaneries, May 20, 7.30pm at St John’s, Accrington, BB5 6AG
  • Blackpool, Kirkham, Poulton and Preston Deaneries, May 21, 7.30pm at St Cuthbert's, Lytham, FY8 5QL

Meanwhile, Churchwardens should also note two Churchwardens’ Briefings; providing helpful guidance directly from the Archdeacons, will take place on June 10 at Lancaster Priory and July 4 at Whalley Abbey, starting at 7.30 pm.

 

Ronnie Semley

26 April 2019