We are in the midst of the #HomeGrown online conference, organised by The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese).
The theme of the two-day event is ‘Hearts on fire with love for you’. It starts at 7pm on October 13 and finishes the following evening, October 14.
Parishes across Lancashire can take part in several ways – including on the Diocesan YouTube channel by watching ‘YouTube Live’ video sessions and participating in online seminars via Zoom. You can also participate on social media using #HomeGrown and (on Twitter) by using handles @cofelancs @BDBofE and @churchofengland as well as on Facebook/Blackburn Diocese.
There is also morning prayer on the 14th live on Zoom and YouTube from Blackburn Cathedral and you can watch it live via this link.
A full timetable for the two days is here on the Diocesan website. Every part of the conference is being organised and planned while taking account of the very latest coronavirus regulations.
The three YouTube live sessions will each be led by the Bishops of the Diocese: Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster who is also chair of the conference planning group.
Bishop Julian, who will speak on the topic ‘God and Fire’ said today: “At this difficult time, with the pandemic showing no signs of abating, we wanted to give our parishes a boost by providing a way to come together – virtually at least – sharing in God’s word; learning from each other and also having some fun!
"I am grateful to everyone who is working hard behind the scenes to make the conference happen. This is new and uncharted territory for us. I am excited to see what God will do during and after this latest digital development.”
During the YouTube Live broadcasts – at 7pm on October 13 and 10am and 7pm on October 14, there will be talks from the Bishops with worship ‘played in’ from a variety of locations including from Blackburn Cathedral; St Christopher’s CofE School in Accrington; St Michael’s High School in Chorley and from St Thomas’ Church, Lancaster’s Youth Band.
There will also be stories, prayer and some other surprises, all wrapped up together as a magazine-style format.
Meanwhile, all three live broadcasts will also feature a series of short films which will be inserted into proceedings and taking the form of a ‘Road Trip’ around the County by the Bishop’s Chaplain, Rev Sam Cheesman, pictured.
Taken together, the Road Trip videos provide a unique snapshot of life in Lancashire’s parishes in the midst of the pandemic. Filming was coordinated by Jim Cooke of Centreline Films, based in Lancaster, who has also provided video and technical support to the whole conference.
Rev Sam Cheesman, who is also a member of the Diocesan Coronavirus Task Group, said today: “It was a privilege to be able to spend time travelling around Lancashire at this difficult time and to see the wonderful work taking place in our parishes to love and support local communities. There were so many stories to be told it was difficult to choose just a few! I hope everyone who watches the videos will be inspired by the people who feature in them.”
Alongside the above YouTube Live events there will also be a Midday Prayer live broadcast on our YouTube channel on October 14, led by Fr Neil Kelley from St Laurence, Chorley and a children’s worship session led by Rev Tom Woolford, Vicar of All Saints Church, New Longton and Sarah Earnshaw, Diocesan Children’s Work Adviser.
There are 12 seminars - five at 11.15am and seven at 2.30pm on October 14. Each lasts for one hour and all are hosted by people from our Diocese – both ordained and lay.
A full list of seminars is on this page. Seminar leaders and their biographies can also be found on this page on the Diocesan website. Spaces are limited but booking is still open (for a maximum of two seminars) by visiting also visiting the link above and onwards to Eventbrite.
Subjects covered including mission work; the environment; children’s and youth work; bereavement; running enquirers’ courses; ‘home grown evangelism’; digital church; the Diocesan Vision 2026 and more.
Places where seminar leaders and contributors are from include Lancaster; Blackburn; Preston; Blackpool; Chorley; Euxton and Darwen.
Andrew Pratt, Bishop’s Interfaith Adviser, from Preston St Stephen Church is a leader of the ‘Home Grown Evangelism’ seminar and said: “I’m excited and looking forward to this new experience; while hoping to get people talking about Jesus and how he has changed their lives.”
Rev Canon Professor John Rodwell (pictured), Diocesan Environment Officer, from Lancaster is on a panel discussing the environment. John said: “The planet is overheating because of human recklessness … This is God’s creation and with the fire of His love in our hearts we can help turn off the heat on our fellow humankind and the creatures with whom we share a common home.”
And Sarah Earnshaw, Children’s Work Adviser, for the Diocesan Board of Education will also be presenting a seminar. Sarah added: “I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the Diocesan #HomeGrown Conference. My hope is that by drawing on the experiences of the participants, we will consider how our children’s ministry not only survives but thrives during these challenging times.”
Meanwhile, Bishop Philip will give a talk (entitled ‘Spirit and Fire’) at the YouTube Live session beginning at 7pm on October 14. He said: “Across our Diocese there are people serving their communities in the most amazing ways during the pandemic.
“We want to support and encourage them in these difficult times and what better way of doing that by taking our conference online? I am excited to be taking part and to have to opportunity to share with so many people in this way.”
Bishop Jill will speak on ‘Jesus and Fire’ in the YouTube Live session at 10am on October 14. She said: “When I came Lancashire, I found I was constantly discovering ‘buried treasure’ hidden in our parishes, chaplaincies and schools.
"This online conference, with its theme of ‘Hearts on fire with love for you’, is all about excavating some of that treasure so we can all benefit.
"There are no external speakers: it’s genuinely ‘home grown’ with every contribution coming from people inside the Diocese!
“I find so much encouragement from the stories I hear and the people I meet across this wonderful County. But I am so conscious that many are tired and worn down by the pandemic.
"So, we’re trying this online conference as a ‘pick me up’; being honest about the challenges while being thankful for the harvest of gifts across Lancashire. May the fire of His love comfort, heal and restore us.”
Ronnie Semley, October 2020