Dear Friends,

Positive test results for Donald Trump and the First Lady. Tighter restrictions in the North-west (though none of the new regulations impact any areas of our own Diocese). Anger over the actions of an MP. The news remains pretty grim.

But – we promised a jollier edition of the briefing today!

There may still be 82 shopping days until Christmas, but it is clear that many parishes are already doing a great deal of thinking about how Christmas can be a time of joy for our communities whilst we continue to live with the pandemic. Today we feature some resources and ideas which might help with your planning and we will soon be setting up a closed Facebook group where people can share ideas.

Weekly Message

Bishop Philip has recorded this week’s message which explores the inequality that the pandemic has revealed and how churches can respond to it. It can be viewed on the Diocesan YouTube channel.

Book now for #HomeGrown online conference

You can now book onto the huge range of events which make up our first ever online conference on October 13 and 14. Some of the sessions will be on YouTube, with various seminars and workshops on Zoom. The Zoom sessions are limited to 30 places each; so don’t miss out – book now. Please visit this page on the Diocesan website for more information and to book. And keep coming back to the website for the latest updates. Finally, don’t forget to watch and share the promotional video from Bishop Jill; you can watch it here.


A number of enquiries have come in about baptism. For a standalone baptism the rule of six applies, so only six may attend excluding the priest and volunteers. If the baptism takes place within the main Sunday act of worship there is no restriction on numbers beyond the risk assessment that you will have made for your church building.

Ordination Coverage

Thank you for keeping our Deacons and Priests in your prayers as seven ordination services took place at the weekend. Bishop Julian says: “It was a privilege for Bishop Philip, Bishop Jill and I to ordain our 23 candidates at the weekend’s services. May their future ministry bring great glory to God as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those they live and minister amongst.”

Click here for our full coverage, including photos taken after the services and this year’s official ordinations video. The video features two of the Priests, two of the Deacons and our bishops. On this page on the Diocesan website you will find a full list of all the ordinands and where they will serve.

Meanwhile this coming Sunday, on Premier Christian Radio, their ‘Sunday Night Live’ programme has a feature on ordinations taking place across the country. They have chosen to focus on our diocese to illustrate the piece. The programme, presented by Pam Rhodes, will broadcast in audio form at 6pm but is already available in video form on the PCR YouTube channel to watch here (from 25m 40s). Also included in the programme is a sequence about looking forward to Christmas that features Archdeacon David’s recent ‘Christmas is not cancelled’ midweek message (from 5m 13s).

Finally, look out for coverage in your local and regional media. Our ordinations also featured on BBC Radio Lancashire on Sunday. Listen via this page on BBC Sounds (from 3h 11m 12s and then from 3h 51m 40s).

Relive a Holy Land Pilgrimage on Whalley Abbey Facebook page

The Whalley Abbey steering group is offering a daily reflection from the Holy Land. These reflections were originally recorded during the pilgrimage to Israel, Palestine and Jordan which took place this time last year, led by Archdeacon Mark. To access the reflections, please visit the Whalley Abbey Facebook page and remember that you can join in with midday prayer every Tuesday on the same Facebook page.

Preparing for Advent & Christmas 2020: Comfort and Joy

7 ways to create an awesome Christmas event, even during Covid. This article (from challenges us to consider

  • People
  • Purpose
  • Problem
  • Powers
  • Positioning
  • Product
  • Provision

Advent resources.

Though many of these may need re-framing into a Covid-safe context, there are some excellent resources which families could use at home during the Advent season.

Crib Service on Zoom (from the Diocese of St. Albans)

Christingle Service at Home

This can be celebrated by producing a pre-recorded or live-streamed service where people join in at home. They provide the orange and members of the church deliver Christingle ‘packs’ (if it can be done safely) with the various items that are needed to add to the orange as the service develops.

Virtual Christingle Service (The Children’s Society)

Share Christmas with J. John, David Suchet, Sir Cliff Richard and Matt Redman

The 12 Revelations of Christmas – these can be used as a geocache trail or similar around your community.

‘Relay’ Crib Service

Depending on the content of your Crib Service and the size of your building, consider separating the different components of your customary service with a number of smaller services focussing on different elements. At each service focus on one element (animals, shepherds, angels, Mary and Joseph, the birth of Jesus) so that over five smaller services the Crib is built and the story told.

Online services

If you are keen to embrace online services but have never done this, or have few resources at your disposal, contact the Diocesan Online Resourcing Group and someone will be able to help you think through the issues. Contact Joy Rushton at


Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 The Coronavirus Task Group