Lay and clergy leaders from churches in the diocese have been among those taking part in the national New Wine leadership conference taking place in Harrogate this week.
Despite blizzards and heavy snow, 1500 church leaders, both Anglican and those of other churches across the country have been meeting at the Harrogate Convention Centre where the focus has been on ‘transforming communities’ .
The Archdeacon of Bradford, Ven. Andy Jolley (pictured right), one of the conference speakers and New Wine’s Head of Urban Ministry, says that the messages of the conference have been very applicable to the Diocese of Leeds with its aims of growing churches and transforming communities.
“I was talking about urban community transformation, particularly the theme of ‘transforming communities’ and particularly thinking about how we do that in inner cities and outer estates, the particular challenges there and how we can engage for the long-haul.
“We have been looking at how lay discipleship in the whole of life is a really important way in which churches can transform communities. It’s not just what churches are doing by way of social and community work, but actually the way individual Christians working in their respective spheres, whether that’s education, business, the arts, can bring about transformation by living out their faith.”
The New Wine network places an emphasis on lively ‘spirit-filled’ worship, mission and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform the church, but Archdeacon Andy says that the lessons of the conference are applicable to all churches.
“The messages here are messages that any Christian can hear - how, as Christians, living out our faith in our daily life can make a big difference, not just in the short term but also in the long term.”
The Conference in Harrogate also aims to equip, inspire and encourage through developing a network of leaders supporting each other, something the Archdeacon of Bradford believes is important for many local leaders. “One of the things I see as an Archdeacon is that there is a great danger of clergy becoming isolated and, as a result of that, burnt-out and disillusioned.
“I think one of the ways that New Wine can help with that is by providing a way in which leaders can journey together, be accountable to each other, pray for each other and support each other.”
He added that it was good to see an increasing number of local churches taking part. “There are a lot of Diocese of Leeds churches represented here. I think a lot of our local churches have taken advantage of this conference taking place within the diocese and being quite local to them, despite the snow!”