Welcome to June, and we’ve got a busy month ahead of us! Our current deacons will be ordained priest at the end of this month in the Episcopal Areas, and Bishop Nick will ordain this year’s new deacons at Bradford Cathedral on Saturday, July 1.
We’re also in the middle of a season of encouraging volunteering. Six million people across the UK participated in “The Big Help Out” over the Coronation weekend, celebrating and encouraging volunteering in our communities. Churches and other faith communities led the way in helping to re-build a volunteer base that had been severely dented by the COVID pandemic. The /together coalition, of which I’m vice chair, helped to organise that, we’ve got Volunteering Week 1-7 June, and we’re following those up with the 3rd annual national “Thank You Day” on Sunday, July 2.
Gratitude sits at the heart of our Christian faith. Many of us were brought up with the beautiful BCP General Thanksgiving that begins, “Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men…” Thank You Day is an opportunity together, as a nation, to bring our communities together to say thank you.
This year, there is a particular way in which our parishes and chaplaincies can be involved. In partnership with the charity, Music For Dementia, we are encouraging our communities to show our appreciation for Britain’s un-sung army of carers: family members, neighbours, friends and care-workers, with a particular focus on those who look after people with dementia. Tony “Is This The Way To Amarillo” Christie is re-recording “Thank You For Being A Friend” by Andrew Gold, and we’d love to see churches partner with others in their neighbourhoods in taking a pop-up choir to visit a local care-home.
We’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis, with wars and so much else that can pull our eyes and our hearts down. But the Apostle Paul’s most joyful letter (to the Philippians) was written from prison, and I’ve been inspired by our friends in the Episcopal Church of Sudan, where life is unspeakably difficult at the moment. They have not stopped giving thanks to God and neither should we.