Ebbsfleet Lay Congress - 5 March 2016 - Coventry Cathedral

Posted on the 26th Jan 2016 in the category Events

From the Bishop and the Ebbsfleet Lay Council


On 5 March we have a wonderful opportunity to come together in Coventry Cathedral to think and pray together during Lent.  It’s a key event for all our churchwardens and PCC members, and all active lay people — young and old and the clergy are very welcome too!


The most pressing challenge for Church of England parishes – our parishes included – is growth, healthy growth as spiritual communities.  In an age where many people are searching for faith, the Church needs to learn not only how to flourish in its own faith, but crucially also how to hand it on to others, to evangelize and to serve others.   This is no less true for parishes of the Ebbsfleet family than it is for any other parish.


Therefore, the Lay Council has asked Bp Rowan Williams to speak to the 2016 Lay Congress about How Anglican Catholic Christians grow:  ‘Growing the Catholic Community’  And because we also need to learn from Evangelical experience of church growth, Archdeacon Morris Rodham (the archdeacon missioner in Coventry diocese) will be in conversation with Bishop Rowan on the theme of 'Healthy Growing Churches’.


Coventry Cathedral is on major transport routes, and is large and accessible enough for a day’s worth of activity.  Registration will open at 10.00, and the day will begin at 11.00.  There’ll be presentations and discussion, and Bishop Jonathan will celebrate a Mass for the Year of Mercy.  Picnic lunches can be eaten in the cathedral.


The day is free, though you will have travel costs.   But it will help our preparations enormously if each parish registers as a group those who are intending to come.  Please organise your parish group soon, and let Catherine Williamson in the Bishop’s Office know – office@ebbsfleet.org.uk, 0118 948 1038 – by 15 February how many will be coming in your parish group.  We will then circulate more information about the day. 


We look forward to seeing you on 5 March.


+ Jonathan


A new initiative aimed at encouraging vocations to ministry in the Church of England is launched

Posted on the 30th Jun 2014 in the category Events

The Bishops of The Society are delighted to support the launch of the Here I Am initiative.  Bishop Tony Robinson, the Chairman of the Council of Bishops said, "We are very aware that the Church constantly needs more people called to serve the sacred priesthood. We hope this new campaign using up to date digital media will encourage more vocations."


Here I Am is the title of the campaign which has the backing of the catholic societies of the Church of England with the full support of the Additional Curates Society.  Those responsible have embraced digital media to encourage people to explore a vocation to priesthood alongside other kinds of ministry in the Church of England and the Church in Wales. 


A new You Tube channel features specially commissioned films looking at how people are called to ministry, what the selection process involves as well as examining the kind of people who are called to follow a path to priesthood.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has backed the initiative: “I am delighted to see the Catholic Societies working together in order to promote and encourage more vocations to the sacred priesthood under this new and exciting banner of Here I Am”.


Fr Darren Smith, spokesman for Here I Am, said that vocations were emerging across the church in a variety of ways: 

“People looking at the material we have carefully produced will quickly discover that there is no single mould, shape or pattern for the priestly vocation.”


He adds: “Browsers to our website will find details of courses, what happens if they want to take it to the next step and what the work of a priest in the Church of England today involves.”


A new Twitter account @hereiamvocation will be launched at the same time. Organisers hope that people will follow the initiative and join in a wave of prayer for vocations. Bishops and priests representing the catholic societies are already working in every part of England and Wales and it was felt that material that had served them well previously was ready for an upgrade to reflect where the digital audience can now be found.  “We are excited and expectant about the future of ministry and mission in anglican catholic churches and communities,”  Fr. Smith explained.


The next Vocations Conference is at St Stephen’s House from 29 - 31 August


For full details and booking form contact


Additional Curates Society

Gordon Browning House

Unit 7, Spitfire Rd

Birmingham B24 9PB


tel 0121 382 5533

email info@additionalcurates.co.uk

tweet @hereiamvocation

visit them on Facebook

Priestly Ordination on 28 June

Posted on the 27th Jun 2014 in the category Events

Bishop Jonathan will ordain Fr Simon Oakes (pictured above with his training incumbent, Fr Mark McIntyre) to the priesthood on Saturday 28th June at 5pm, at St Gabriel’s, Fullbrook, supported by clergy from the Lichfield and Birmingham area.   He has served as Deacon at St Gabriel’s over the past year, prior to which he trained at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield


The Bishop said:  “Fr Simon, is known to many people in the Ebbsfleet area and beyond, and is much loved in his parish.  He deserves all our prayers as he begins his ministry among us as a priest.  Please remember him not only before but also after his ordination, and with him Fr Mark and the faithful at St Gabriel’s.”


It’s also not too soon to be praying for three new priests Bishop Jonathan will ordain to serve in Exeter in September.   Fr Nicholas Debney (Dartmouth and Dittisham), Fr Peter March (Exeter) and Fr Andrew Overton (Plymouth).

Ebbsfleet Chrism Homily 2014

Posted on the 17th Apr 2014 in the category Events

“Let us recognize our need of all the gifts of God that these holy oils signify.”
The following Homily was preached by the Bishop at each of the Ebbsfleet Chrism Masses 2014:  Bristol Cathedral, 12 April; Birmingham Cathedral, 15 April, and St Peter’s Plymouth, 16 April
Dear Brothers and Sisters, today I have the joy of celebrating my first Chrism Mass as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.  I welcome you all with love and gratitude, and especially my dear brother priests with whom, today, I also recall the day of my ordination.  Just as for our brothers and sisters in the Diocese in Europe, much of our Ebbsfleet life is often hidden from each other’s view.  But today we have the great joy of seeing those ties of mutual love visibly drawn together in this Eucharist, and as for any bishop the experience in humbling.
Holy Week is the very core of the memory and identity of Christians.  In one way, as the Carthusians say, ‘The cross stands fixed while the world turns’:  it is the great immovable sign of Christ’s Passover from death to life.  But from another view Holy Week is the point at which all the lines of Christian memory and identity intersect, connect, and multiply.  Whichever way you come at it, we are celebrating the events that make Christians who we are.  The Lord’s Passover is not just a postmodern story that we have chosen to tell about ourselves, so that we have clear branding in the market place.  These are real events:  events that quite literally change our identity, and set our feet down in Christ’s shoes in Christ’s kingdom.
And among the other great liturgies of this week, this Mass is no poor relation.  It has roots deep in the memories and habits of the early church.  Time only allows for me to draw out one strand:  but it is one that I believe we need to hear.
All three oils are signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  Olive oil, which is a kind of distillation of the radiance of the sun, becomes on our bodies a sign of the inner transforming radiance of the Holy Spirit.  This is what took place in its fullest way in Jesus.  When we refer to him as Christ—the Anointed One—it is because his humanity was saturated by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And because of him all human life has been opened up to the possibility of the same anointing and communion in the Spirit.  The more we are united to Christ, the more we are filled with his Holy Spirit.
That is the meaning of being called Christians, “anointed ones”, people who because they belong to Christ share in his Spirit.  Perhaps that brings to mind the truth of the words of St Seraphim of Sarov (who you’ll hear a lot about if you stick with me as your Bishop):  “The true goal of our Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God.” 
This is where these oils come in.  They are all used in connection with the entry of the Holy Spirit into our lives to make us Christian. Two of the oils (the ones for anointing the sick and for anointing people preparing for baptism) are far closer in meaning than you might first think.  They are both concerned with forgiveness and healing, which in the gospels are deeply interconnected.
When we look in the gospels it becomes clear that Jesus’s healing miracles bring to an end the bodily sickness of an individual so that that person’s alienation from the community, from God’s people, can also be ended.  Jesus’s main purpose in healing a person was to restore them to the community, to end their estrangement and loneliness, and to give back their proper dignity in the fellowship of the community.  That is why so many of the healing stories in the gospels involve a person being declared ‘clean’ by the priests of the community.  Jesus’s touch not only healed sickness, it healed the wound of alienation too, and gave people new access to sharing in the identity of the chosen people.
Perhaps that helps us to see the oil of catechumens in a rather similar light.  It too is associated with the reconciliation of individuals, with being forgiven and healed of the sickness and loneliness of sin, and drawn into the community of Jesus Christ.   It is a sign that the Holy Spirit has entered them, to guide and motivate them toward their baptism, in anticipation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at confirmation which gives entry into the communion of saints, the Eucharist.  As the late great Fr McCabe said, “We share a divine food because we share a divine friendship.” [New Creation, p.65]
And this is not only about new Christians.  The same theme of forgiveness and return also emerges in another way.  Holy Thursday was not only the day on which the oils were normally blessed, but was also the day on which baptized individuals who had been alienated from the Church for some reason, and had demonstrated their penitence throughout Lent, were publicly reconciled with the Church, ready to share fully in the celebrations of Easter.
So: an end of sickness, an end of sin, an end of alienation;  an embrace of the Lord, a renewed desire to be Christ’s disciple, a reconciliation with the communion of saints.  All these themes are connected with these two oils.  And both find their goal in that special oil, the Chrism, which is the sign above all of the Holy Spirit enabling human beings to live the life of Jesus:  a life in this world but with its source in communion with God.
Brothers and sisters, we have to recognize our own poverty and infidelity, and our need of all those things that the holy oils signify.  Let us confess our sense of loneliness and fear of greater isolation from the Church catholic, and seek the consolation of the Holy Spirit.  Let us affirm our desire to live our life in as full as possible a relation to catholic fellowship.  Let us acknowledge our need of the strength and common mind that comes from closer fellowship to one another in the body of Christ.  Let us put aside a temptation to nurse our wounds, and let us admit our need of Christ’s touch, of the Spirit’s healing, of the restoration to joy.  It is a touch and a healing that we shall need even more in the coming months if our Church takes further decisions which we believe to be in contradiction to the express will of God for his Church and subversive of its true nature. (cf Abp of Canterbury in Synod, Nov 2012)  Many of our brothers and sisters in the CofE, the Anglican Communion, or wider still, don’t understand or necessarily accept that our commitment to the received sacramental order of the Church is a matter of obedience to the Lord’s authority and to the consensus of the Church’s tradition.  But many do:  it commands their respect;  and they desire our continued presence precisely in the Church where the Lord has put us and continues to feed us.  Together with them—and despite the painful sacramental contradictions—we shall need to promote ways of living in the closest, fullest, highest degree of connection and relationship, because we are all beggars in need of the gifts of the Spirit that can only be experienced in unity.
I cannot end without a word direct to the priests and deacons who in a moment, before we bless the new oils, will renew their promises of service and sacrifice.  Brothers, and sisters in the diaconate! We have been given authority to go out and to find people to bless and to heal and to reconcile.  These oils are being consecrated for use in ministry in our communities.  The people of God, and the people seeking God, are their aim and purpose, because they are the ones in whom the Spirit of Jesus thirsts to dwell.  They are the people we are to be blessing and healing and reconciling.  They are the ones who seek the word of the Lord, and the sacramental food for which they depend upon us.  They are the ones who need our encouragement and teaching, our challenge and support to live in the world as contemplatives and evangelists and missionaries.
But, my dear brothers, do not neglect either, to minister to one another:  to pour oil into one another’s wounds, and bind them up;  to be the agents of one another’s reconciliation with the Church, softening and easing any sense in each other of tiredness, fear, or cynicism about the future.  Let Jesus’s touch start with you:  and do not be afraid to receive it from others, or to minister it to other clergy in our church – those who feel sympathetic towards us, and those who don’t.  There will be no time or place or encounter or service in which we will not need to ask God for the special gift of faithfulness which we call courage.  Ask the Lord daily for it, and share it with one another.
Enough of talking.  As we bless these oils, let us remember that we are preparing ourselves for the mission of the Church.
© Jonathan Goodall, 2014


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Posted on the 20th Mar 2014 in the category Events


Saturday 12 July 2014


In my previous work for Archbishop Rowan I have seen the Church gathered for the Eucharist in many, and dramatically different settings.  One of the most wonderful was in Kiev – a celebration of the Eastern Divine Liturgy specially adapted (and shortened!) for children and young people.  The sense of life, and the sight of the Spirit shining in those faces, was one of those wonderful moments when you think, ‘Yes!  this is it!  This is what the Church looks like:  full of life, full of joy, touched by Jesus, unexpectedly alive to his presence.  We don’t need to invent it or manage it.  We just need to be open to it – or rather to him, to the impact of Jesus calling us together and creating his Body.


That is something of the hope that I have for my first visit to Brean Sands for this year’s Ebbsfleet Eucharistic Festival, on Saturday 12 July (just before the end of school term). It’s day of worship and funfair for all children & young people in the Ebbsfleet family.  That weekend many eyes will be on York, and the General Synod, and possibly more momentous decision-making for our Church.  It’s a good moment then, for the Ebbsfleet family to gather together with the children and young people of our parishes and celebrate the life and growth that Christ pours out on his Church. 


All the relevant practical details are on the attached form, which I hope you’ll fill in and return to our friends at ACS as soon as you can.  Those who know ‘Brean’ often tell me they’ll be going again.  If you haven’t been before, why not bring the young people from your parish and, like me, make it a first time?




Hill House, Reading

St Joseph, 19 March 2014

Download application form HERE






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