Commissioning Service

On the 11th July 2021, The Venerable Dr Anne Dawtry, Archdeacon of Halifax, joined us for a service of Holy Communion at St Bartholomew’s Church, Marsden, and St James’ Church, Slaithwaite as we held a service to recognise and commission the ministry of those who have volunteered and given time to the church.

The Safer Recruitment process ensures that volunteers have a clear job description for their role which gives them the confidence to exercise their ministry with the authority of the church, and also protects them from ‘scope creep’: the times when clergy say, “oh, could you just do this…”

Today’s readings were from Ephesians (helping us to understand the good news better) and the Gospel reading was the retelling of the death of John the Baptist at Herod’s command.

May the words of my mouth, and the thoughts and mediations of all our hearts, be acceptable to you Lord, our strength and salvation…

Today’s gospel – good news – is the beheading of John the Baptist. Jesus has been commissioning his disciples to go out and do all such good works – as we heard last week. Later we will hear how they got on. In this intermission we have an insight into the pain and suffering of the world.

The good news is not good news unless it is good news to the whole world. There are those in our community who are born into a home of violence, whose lives are marked by fear and pain, and those who ultimately die never knowing the love of another human being.

And here we are… with all the complexities of our own lives – come before God because we know that God loves us and that our lives can be set free from fear by the power of God’s love.

The life of our church is amazing and thriving – it is shown in the way so many people give their time, money and energy and above all, prayers, for our Christian life together and for the community around us so that we may not just grow in faith – but grow in the number of people who join us here to learn of God’s love.

Today, with Archdeacon Anne here, I want to give thanks for the generosity of the whole church and to commission those who have applied for specific jobs recently and been through the Safer Recruitment process.

Before I go any further: it is important to remember that so much work is done that only a few know about: We have teams who clean the church (which is really important in Covid times) some gather and put flowers in the church. There are people who set aside time to welcome everyone and make sure they know what is going on in church. During a service some people read and lead intercessions, others handle the collections or help at the communion table. Some, like Jon and Alvy, and Elizabeth and Beth, have made worship wonderful by leading with music. After the service there is tidying up, or making tea and coffee: which makes it possible for us to get to know each other better.

We remember our family at Shred and the wonderful ministry of Annis Mansaf and all who give their time and love to the flourishing of that community.

Helen Haigh, Noreen Carr and Sara Brown have given so much to organising events: social and fundraising, and I know they would appreciate the support of others.

Some have given their time and money to looking after the building and the grounds – thank you!

Organising the intercession rotas and the Bible reading rotas is no mean feat too… thanks to Sue Langton at St James who has taken on the intercession rota. We are always looking for extra people to read and lead us in prayers, and training will be provided!

We have Church Officers who we recognise at the APCM: our Church Wardens, Treasurers, and PCC members. We have people who help at the occassional offices, who make magazines, operate projectors, sort out music, print flyers and sheets, help with notices, make sure safeguarding and data protection are done properly… even trying to remember everyone I will have missed someone – but without the work of everyone we wouldn’t be able to continue.

But the life of the church is not only focussed on Sunday services, in fact if we are to grow, then the missionaries and evangelists within our congregation need affirmation too. Those who spread the good news through word and action. In shops and homes, in schools and their places of work: living the good news of freedom from fear, in the knowledge that there is a God and we are loved.

In each of our ministries it is important to do what you love, but do it for God. When what we do is something we enjoy, others can see it on our faces, in our smiles… our behaviour and body language speaks of God’s love as loudly as our words.

Today though, is a time for us as a church to commission those who have volunteered for specific roles and just completed the safer recruitment process:

Baptism Coordinators
Jenny Mitchell and Alison Gibson at St Bartholomew’s
Dorothy Gledhill at St James

Helping me with the administration of baptisms, welcoming families to church, collecting contact information and arranging the dates with me, assisting during the baptism and following up with families after the baptism.

Wedding Administrator
Ursula Parkinson – for the Benefice
Helping me with all the administration of Weddings – making sure that our Treasurers, Vergers, Organists, Flower Arrangers, Bell Ringers, those who get the Church ready and everyone is aware of what it going on. Helping me to keep on top of the vast amount of information that floods in from so many couples on their big day.

Small Group Leader
Glennis Thombs – for the Benefice
Glennis will be running a small home group / discipleship group – she trained as a Reader and has a vast amount of theological knowledge to call upon. Glennis will also be developing a midweek worship at St James, possibly on a Wednesday when we used to have Oasis. Something that allows for corporate prayer because prayer is such an important part of our life together.

Pastoral Team Leader
Barbara Swift – St James
Barbara has completed the Pastoral Leader Training and is looking for a team to support her with home visits and pastoral ministry. Pastoral Ministry is not simply going round to have a chat with a friend – it is a recognised and important prayer ministry and people who visit homes pastorally are representing the church and are committed to pray for those in need in their homes. Safeguarding is really important in this role and anyone who volunteers to work with Barbara will need to complete safeguarding training and have a DBS check.

Lay Worship Leader in Training
Ali Baxter – St James
Ali is training as a Lay Worship Leader – something she has done before in the Methodist Church but she’s topping up her Anglicanism with a refresher course from the Diocese of Leeds. Ali has a training agreement with me and will be supported in the experiences she needs to gather.

Reader in Training
Alison Fisher – St Bartholomew’s
Alison Fisher has been approved for Training as a Licensed Lay Minister (traditionally known as a Reader) and will begin this September – Alison will be taking part in services as part of her training and has my full support in this. The training will take at least two years!

Geoffrey Holroyd and Carol Holdsworth
Both Geoff and Carol are qualified Readers and will be supporting Joanna and I in the ministry of this Church. Geoff occasionally leads Morning Prayer on the Thursday, and has a wealth of experience in preparing the Church for Holy Communion – Geoff is also keen to train anyone interested in taking on some of these responsibilities. Carol is prayerfully considering how her ministry can be exercised as a person with ME. Currently Carol and I are looking at online worship and Home Church and how that might be helped to develop in the future.

So now let us Commission them in prayer…

Sisters and Brothers
God has gathered us into the fellowship of the Universal Church. As members together of his body, Christ calls us to minister in his name and according to our gifts, to be instruments of his love in the world.

We pray for Dorothy, Jenny and Alison as they assist families on the edge of church life and welcome them into Christ’s family through the sacrament of Baptism.

Lord, give them the gift of hospitality and wisdom as they support those who are yet to begin their journey of faith.

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us

We pray for Ursula as she works to make Weddings happen successfully. We give thanks for her attention to detail, and the joy she brings to a ministry of marriage.

Lord bless Ursula with the time and energy to bring together everyone who has a role to play behind the scenes and in the celebration of Christian marriage in our churches.

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us

We pray for Glennis as she resumes her calling to teach the church and lead it in prayer.

Lord, may you give Glennis wisdom and insight, bless her with the inspiration of your spirit that she may lead others to a deeper relationship with you, and to learn to pray for the life of the church and the world around us.

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us

We pray for Barbara as she begins to develop a team of pastoral assistants.

Lord, may your presence and love surround and protect Barbara as she begins this ministry of love to the church. Hold Barbara by the hand as she weeps with those who weep, as she rejoices with those who rejoice, and, like Mary at the Wedding in Cana: recognises the needs of our community and brings them before God.

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us

We pray for Ali Baxter and Alison Fisher as they begin their training.

Lord, bless Ali and Alison with the energy and understanding needed to take on training. Help them to learn from those with experience and bring back to us the fruits of their learning. May their sacrifice be a blessing upon them and ultimately a blessing on the world around them.

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us

We pray for our Readers, for Geoffrey and Carol. Readers are called to serve the church of God and to work together with the clergy and other ministers: to lead public worship, to preach and to teach the word of God, to assist at the Eucharist and to share in pastoral and evangelistic work. As authorised lay ministers, they are to encourage the ministries of God’s people, as the spirit distributes gifts among us all. They are called to help the whole church to participate in God’s mission to the world.

Lord, bless Geoff and Carol as they exercise their calling within the leadership of your Holy Spirit. May you inspire them in their ministry and equip them for all such good works as you have prepared for them. Renew their strength like the strength of their youth. Lift them up as if on eagles wings and – as the time comes – help them to pass on all they have learned to those who will follow in the footsteps of Reader ministry

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us

Now that we have commissioned those with new roles – I wonder if you could give them a round of applause for the gifts they have offered in service of God’s Church…

John the Baptist’s life was taken by a world of rash promises, oaths that should never have been made, petty jealously and power struggles. John died because those around him lived in fear. But John didn’t live in fear: John’s ministry was a ministry of love – calling the community he lived in, into a new relationship with God – with Christ. John was the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

We are all called into this ministry in one way or another, so for that reason I now pray for all of you, in each way that you serve:

Lord, in each and every way that your church, your children, our sisters and brothers in Christ give their lives in your service – protect us. Give us wisdom and joy, strength and love, humility and energy. May the blessings that you have poured on each and every one of us be a blessing on the world around us.

Lord hear us
Lord graciously hear us