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Home Who's who Bishops The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam. Sermons, articles, and speeches Ad clerum for Ash Wednesday 2020

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Ad clerum for Ash Wednesday 2020

by Michael Ford last modified 26 Feb, 2020 01:26 PM

The Bishop sent a letter to all clergy holding a licence or Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Salisbury on Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020.

Dear sisters and brothers,

On Ash Wednesday we face our mortality - “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” - and begin the annual opportunity given by Lent to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ”. It’s a time to re-establish for ourselves the patterns of prayer, study and Christian life that sustain us. Lent is less a burden than a time of joyful simplicity. Giving up or taking on things are not the purpose of Lent. As St Augustine said, “We come to God by love and not by navigation.” In Augustine there is also a welcome emphasis on the journey inwards, rekindling the spirit in which Christ first called us into ministry: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new! Late have I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you.”

This year’s focus on the care of creation could not be more timely as we seek to use aright the gifts of God’s creation. I hope you will make good use of the resources prepared nationally for the Church of England with #LiveLent: Care for God’s Creation and its 40 day challenge for adults and children alongside Ruth Valerio’s ‘Saying Yes to Life’, which is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book.

This Lent I am going to try to be plastic free for 40 days. I have got my bamboo toothbrush and bar of soap but it’s already feeling complicated and I know I will fail. My fountain pen is filled with ink but I type this letter on a plastic keyboard. If I am coming back to Salisbury on an evening train I sometimes buy a bean and nut salad, just the sort of food we are supposed to eat. It comes in a plastic box with a wooden fork and symbolizes the muddle we are in as we try to do our best in God’s good world. What I am aiming for is really a bit of self-education and I’ll try to ensure others learn with me by the occasional blog and a few interviews with Tim Daykin on BBC Radio Solent.

Lent is an opportunity to renew our relationships with God and one another and the planet; less about what we give up and more about what we take on, renewed by the disciplines and joys of Christian life. I hope we will have a holy and joyful Lent, Renewing Hope as we Pray, Serve, Grow.

Changes at Church House

There have been some significant changes at Church House with the creation of four teams from the previous 15 small teams. The new structure begins on the 1 March. The aim is to make a coherent, better integrated and more effective Church House. A new leadership team is emerging. Liz Ashmead has been appointed to the role of Director of Finance and Asset Management (including Property). Elizabeth Harvey has been appointed to the role of Director of Parish Support, Governance and Administration.

As part of these significant changes, Judith Wilson and Canon Jane Charman are both moving on from their former roles. Jane finished as Director of Ministry on the 14 February, a post she has held with distinction for 16 years. She has made an immense contribution to the life and work of the Diocese with the development of lay education and ministries, the introduction of Ministry Reviews for clergy as well as outstanding educational opportunities, particularly through CMD. She has also made much valued contributions to the regional and national Church. I warmly thank Jane for all that she's done. Assuming the clergy on Bishop’s Council are willing, as they have yet to approve this, Jane will continue to represent the Diocese on General Synod through to the end of this triennium in July and as a General Synod representative on the national Ministry Council until February 2021.

Judith Wilson will finish as Director of Human Resources at the end of April. Hers has been a less visible role but a vital one. At a time of considerable change in the Church of England, Judith has been a very reliable guide and I thank her for her service.

Recruitments and interim arrangements are now being put in place for the roles of Director of People, Safeguarding and Learning and Director of Mission and Ministry and Deputy Diocesan Secretary. I am very grateful to Jonathan Triffitt, Rector of Blandford Forum and Langton Long, who will be starting next week as our interim Director of Mission and Ministry and Deputy Diocesan Secretary. Jonathan is Chair of the House of Clergy (from which he will absent himself for this interim period to prevent any conflict of interest) and a member of the Diocesan Board of Education with responsibility for chairing the Children and Young People Committee. He also serves as a member of the Mission and Ministry Council and has been close to the emerging new thinking about our diocesan priorities. Prior to his current role, Jonathan served as Vicar at Southbroom, Devizes where he was also Rural Dean, and before that as the Associate Vicar of Sherborne Abbey and Chaplain to St Paul’s and the Gryphon School. He brings a deep and wide understanding of the Diocese. I am grateful to Jonathan’s church wardens for releasing him from his benefice responsibilities for this period, which we expect to be for six months, during which he will continue to spend one day per week as part of the benefice team.

Sarum College Library

I am pleased to let you know that the Sowter Clerical Library charity has agreed to pay a corporate subscription to Sarum College Library which will make the privileges of membership of the Library available to all accredited ministers in the Diocese. In addition, as an extra benefit not available to ordinary members, those included under this membership will not be asked to pay the cost of posting any items to them. The library catalogue is online. You do not have to visit the Library to borrow a book but you will have to pay the cost of posting it back if you don’t deliver it in person. You have to post books back only if someone else has requested them; otherwise you can just keep on renewing your loan until you (or someone else on your behalf) visits the College.

I do hope that you will find this membership useful to you as you try to keep up to date with your reading. This is something of an experiment at the moment and may need to be reviewed but, in the meantime, do take advantage of this wonderful library and all that it has to offer. You will find a Guide to Library Services on the Sarum College Library website and an application form for membership. For any other information, please contact the excellent librarian, Jayne Downey (01722 424803 | ).

Condolence book

A wise training incumbent advised his curates always to have in the parish office a book suitable for use as a book of condolence. As we found when Princess Diana died, we cannot foretell when they will be needed but, when they are, there is little time to get organised. While there is no need to use a specialist supplier, one such is Barnard and Westwood who have available loose leaf books which might be helpful should a page be defaced. You will each know, or be able quickly to sense at the time, what is appropriate in your own setting.

On the death of a leading national figure, the national Church will rapidly issue appropriate liturgy. I understand that the liturgical resources have been prepared but, because they are constantly subject to revision, they will not be published until actually needed. At the time, the diocesan website too will carry guidance on matters such as the use of flags and bells and the cathedral’s website will set out details of the response of the Diocese’s mother church.


Every four years or so, instead of the archdeacons conducting visitations in their archdeaconries, I hold a Visitation in the cathedral. I will be doing so this year on Tuesday the 9 June at 7.00pm. While the occasion is primarily for churchwardens, I do encourage you to come with them as a gesture of your support for their important work.

Clergy day

The Clergy Day this year will be at Bryanston School on Wednesday the 8 July. It will continue the environmental theme of this year which, I hope, may be forming the basis of your local Lenten studies and is to form a major part of the Lambeth 2020 discussions before the COP26 summit in November. You should already have the date in your diary and further details of the day will follow in due course. Speakers include The Revd Dr David Bookless, Director of Theology at A Rocha International, and Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, Professor of Environmental Psychology at Cardiff University and Director of the UK Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations.

David has a PhD from Cambridge University on biblical theology and biodiversity conservation. His ‘passion is communicating biblical teaching to today’s cultures’.

Lorraine will introduce an interesting perspective: why it is that we find it so difficult actually to do anything about climate change even though we recognize the danger and want to take action.

The Clergy Day is one of the occasions which I ask those of you who are licensed (as opposed to holding PtO) to make a priority to attend – see below.

Chrism Eucharist

This Maundy Thursday (9 April), we shall gather as in every year in the cathedral at 11.00am to renew the solemn promises we made at our ordination, to bless the oils for the anointing of the sick and dying, for the signing with the cross at baptism and of chrism and to share in the eucharist as we prepare to embark on the great Triduum. It is also an opportunity to receive prayer and the laying on of hands and/or anointing and/or to make your confession and/or to collect the Holy Oils for use in your work, should you so wish.

This and the Clergy Day are the two occasions to which I ask those of you who are licensed (as opposed to holding PtO) to give the utmost priority and, if you are unable to attend, to write and let me know what more important commitment requires your attention. Please write to me at this office or email me at .

Please do come and bring with you, in particular, any bishops, Church Army Evangelists, deacons, Lay Pastoral Assistants, Lay Worship Leaders, Licensed Lay Ministers and priests who share in ministry with you, but all are welcome so do encourage any from your parishes who would like to come. If you have in your congregations any who are exploring a vocation to ministry, lay or ordained, please invite them as well so that they too may experience something of our common life together. If anyone is missing, then, as a body, we are less than whole so I do urge those of you who are licensed to make every effort. Parish worship on Maundy Thursday is usually in the evening but, if there is a pastoral need for a service in your benefice that clashes with the Chrism Eucharist in the cathedral, that may be one of those occasions when one of our colleagues with PtO (without whose valuable ministry the diocese would find it very difficult to function) may be willing to release you and to officiate on your behalf.

Clergy attending (both licensed and those with PtO) are invited to robe. The dress is alb and white stole or, if an alb is not your tradition, then cassock, surplice and white stole (or black scarf if a stole is not your tradition either). Uniformity of apparel reinforces our sense of unity as a body of ministers. Please be robed and ready to receive a briefing in the Chapter House at 10.40am. Those with specific roles in the service will receive separate instructions direct from the Precentor on where to robe and to be briefed. Unfortunately it is not possible for LLMs to robe on this occasion.

It has been a very wet late winter but, subject to the weather, parking should be available within The Close on Marsh’s Close which is the field adjacent to the Cathedral Works yard and to the south west of the cathedral. If the weather has been such that Marsh’s Close is waterlogged, then you will have to make use of the city car parks, the closest of which is Old George Mall car park, accessible from New Street.

I hope and pray we will have a good and holy Lent.

God bless,

+Nicholas Sarum

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