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An innovative #HomeGrown online conference is set to form a cornerstone to activities planned this autumn by The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese). 

The buzz begins with a video message below encouraging the Diocese to get involved, from Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, who is chairing the Conference Planning Group.  

  • Bishop Jill, also spoke about the event on BBC Radio Lancashire recently (listen from 1h 51m 50s). 

With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to prevent large-scale gatherings, the Diocese wanted to find a way of bringing its people together. The conference theme is ‘Hearts on fire with love for you’.  

It will be well and truly ‘home grown’ – with no external speakers and every contribution coming from people inside the Diocese – including, of course, the many parishes and schools across the County.  

A series of live sessions on YouTube plus Zoom webinars will be used to achieve twin aims of encouraging people (a morale booster as the dark nights arrive) whilst also learning from each other.  

The conference will run across a 24-hour period next month on two days, October 13 and 14, starting with an evening session on the first night led by the Bishops of Blackburn, Burnley and Lancaster and followed by a full day of online events. The three Bishops will all deliver keynote addresses at various points during the conference.  

The final programme is still being firmed up but the full day (October 14) should see a variety of topics covered including mission and evangelism; the environment; children’s and youth work; bereavement; running enquirers’ courses; digital church; the Diocesan Vision 2026 and much, much more. All will be presented by people from our parishes, schools as well as Diocesan staff.  

There will also be special films shown within live sessions featuring contributions from around the Diocese, plus testimonies, prayer, sung worship and even a bit of comedy! 

Booking will be via Eventbrite for each online webinar. Further information and booking links will be added to the Diocesan website, www.blackburn.anglican.org, as it all becomes available so keep checking back regularly.  

Speaking in her video message Bishop Jill said: “I have been so impressed by the ways in which our Diocesan family have stepped up and stepped out through all the challenges of lockdown.  

“Key workers have been serving under incredible stress, and yet there’s been new innovations in our hospital chaplaincies. Schools have been closed for six months, and yet our teachers and young people have shown remarkable resilience even despite the challenges of exam results.  

“Food banks have been in overdrive and people have been reaching out to their neighbours in isolation; youth groups have gone online.  

“And yet, as the autumn nights draw in, I know many are tired and worn. The ongoing stress and uncertainty of lockdowns and financial hardships, health worries and the untold sadness of bereavement.  

“This is why we thought it would be timely to gather online for a ‘pick-me-up’. An online #HomeGrown conference. I find so much encouragement from the stories and people across Lancashire. It will be an opportunity to come together for input, seminars, news, worship and fun. 

“The conference theme is ‘Hearts on fire with love for you’. It’s a simple line from Morning Prayer, but this is my hope and prayer for our time together.  

“As we gather together as a family as the nights draw in, may our hearts be warmed with His fire. May His love comfort and restore us.” 

  • Keep watching the Diocesan website www.blackburn.anglican.org for the latest updates and information on the #HomeGrown conference on October 13 and 14, as well as @cofelancs and @BDBofE on Twitter and on Facebook and YouTube (search Blackburn Diocese).