Tag Archives: College of St Barnabas

Labour Shortages

This is an extract from the House of Commons Library website dated 10th January 2023, on current Skills and Labour shortages in the UK:
In September-November 2022, there were 1.19 million vacancies in the UK, similar to the number of unemployed people. Human health and social work had the highest number of vacancies. A key reason for labour shortages is that demand for labour has recovered faster than labour supply since the pandemic. Labour supply and employment are below pre-pandemic levels because of a rise in economic inactivity – people who are not in work and not looking for work. While the UK is not unique in experiencing shortages of materials and workers, commentators have noted that new immigration rules post-Brexit may have exacerbated the situation. There are different views on the extent to which Brexit-related factors are contributing to labour supply issues in the UK. The Bank of England reports that slowing population growth is partly responsible for a decreased labour supply, which has been driven by lower net migration from the EU.

It is with this report on labour shortages in mind that the words from Matthew’s Gospel resonate in my ears for this morning…. “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

These words from Matthew are a discipleship call – to be attentive to God yet deeply engaged with the world. It is a challenge to align ourselves with the ‘Heartbeat of God’ – a phrase used in a report to the World Council of Churches in 2017. I think Jesus’ words have always resonated, not just with me, nor even Christians – but with people who have a heart for people. Doctors, Nurses, Care Workers, Social Workers, Teachers – the list could go on. Through my dealings with these professionals in the public service sector, I am acutely aware of how their profession has become more challenging since I was ordained 30 years ago. I, and perhaps you, have not been surprised by the unprecedented strikes many have taken. Let alone the increasing strain on the voluntary sector. Highlighted this week by the RNLI saving continuing numbers of migrants illegally crossing the Channel. Criticised by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage as behaving like a “taxi service for illegal immigration”. The RNLI has said this week they ‘will not stop saving lives’. I expect those words will resonate on a number of levels for Christians. They will not stop saving lives.

Rt Rev Rosemarie Mallett, Bishop of Croydon, visiting the College of St Barnabas on 11th June

In our times, possibly like many generations before us, we may feel anxious, not knowing where it will all end. To compound the general anxiety revelations and legal action continue to abound with our political leaders, adding to the malaise and sense that there are a growing number of people who feel, ‘lost and without a shepherd’. These are anxious days – Bishop Rosemarie Mallett and I concluded in our conversation when she visited the College of St Barnabas last Sunday for our annual Patronal Festival.

Days of Extremes – extreme political control and violence in Ukraine, Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan – and more.
Extreme Voices – in Fake News and Social Media Silos, providing platforms for ‘false shepherds’ in America, Russia, Uganda – and more.
Extremes in ‘Climate Change’. And not just a change of climate in the weather, but also in politics, economics, global demographics, and more. Perhaps for the first time in a generation, we see warnings that we cannot take our freedoms nor our responsibilities lightly. But what can we do?

Jesus says we should PRAY. Not lose heart and not dishearten others. But pray and do what we can where we can. When Bishop Rosemarie asked me what I did at the College as the Chaplain, I said, ‘That I try and help everyone to be kind to one another.’ She knew immediately what I meant, and that it was not a facile answer. Her knowing response spoke volumes to me and encouraged me to believe in what I am doing – particularly on days when I feel overwhelmed. Anxious, extreme, overwhelming days do not necessarily mean we are in the wrong place or have said or done the wrong thing. It simply means that we may need to pray, as Jesus said, and align ourselves once more – with the ‘Heartbeat of God’.

It is a heartbeat that gives Life to be shared in all its abundance.
A heartbeat that drums to the Rhythm of Love, Justice, and Peace.
A heartbeat that resounds through all time and eternity in the Cosmos, long after empires have fallen, and ‘tweeting’ tyrants are no more. Be still, and listen to the Heartbeat of God, for that is where Life in all its abundance begins. Amen.

(Sermon by the Chaplain, Rev Derek Chandler, based on Matthew 9:35-10:8)

100 Years Young!

Celebrating Liz’s 100th Birthday

Congratulations to Liz as she celebrated her 100th birthday with her family along with residents and staff at the College of St Barnabas.

Liz and the family thanked everyone for helping to make the day so special. Included within the celebrations was a morning eucharist presided over by her son, Jonathan – the former Bishop of Croydon. A special family lunch, which then continued into the afternoon with a cake cutting ceremony and presentation of flowers by the CEO on behalf of the College. Finally, Liz was also presented with a special birthday card from King Charles III.

Well Done Liz!

Saintliness is “The Beginning of a Great Work!”

Sermon delivered by Rev Derek Chandler to celebrate All Saints Day 2022 at St. James’s Church, Finchampstead:

In 1895 a missionary named Canon William Henry Cooper, returned to England. A pioneer in many ways, he was shocked to find his fellow clergy, retired through illness or advanced age, reduced to living in workhouses. He found 27 in Brighton alone – in conditions little better than prisons – where the words emblazoned on the workhouse walls said it all: GOD IS JUST.

Before the Welfare State or the NHS, Canon Cooper showed our institutions, including the Church of England – how to care for our former pastors, by founding the College of St Barnabas, for which I am now the Chaplain. In another time and place, we may well have had Cooper canonized as a saint.

I wonder what you picture when I mention the word, ‘Saint’?
In a church, we may well look at either statues, or stained-glass windows with images of saints. They are either flat and one dimensional, as in the windows, or cold as stone statues. They probably seem very removed from us and a common definition of saints might therefore be, “People who are not like us!”

However, this is not the picture in the New Testament. The word ‘saint’ comes from the Latin, ‘sanctus’, meaning ‘holy’. A saint shares in the divine life of God. But at the same time the New Testament tells us about the ‘poor saints in Jerusalem’, and in the Acts of the Apostles, we are told about Peter visiting the ‘saints in Lydda’, one of whom he cures from paralysis. The saints in the New Testament are people like us. On All Saints’ Day we are invited to perceive that we are the saints, or at least, we have the potential to be. The Beatitudes which are quoted today in a slightly different form by Luke’s Gospel than by Matthew’s, describe as ‘blessed’ the lives of those who struggle, and suffer, and know their weakness. These are not the lives of stained glass, or plaster saints, but the lives of real people learning to rely on God in their everyday successes and failures, and yet still working together for God’s Kingdom.

The Christian theologian, Paul Tillich, once said: “A saint is a saint, not because they are ‘impossibly good’ but because they are transparent for something that is more than they themselves are.” Allowing God to work in us, shine through us, transforming all into what might be. This is the beginning of Saintliness. Much like the moments George Herbert described four centuries earlier, in the second verse of the popular hymn, ‘Teach Me My God and King’:
“A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or, if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.”

So much of our lives can be spent just staring at the glass. For some, mesmerized by the importance of their own reflection. It can be a life changing moment when we perceive the enlightened world that lies beyond. A moment of ‘transparency’, Paul Tillich might call it. The beginning of Saintliness.

With that in mind, these are the words I hear Jesus speaking to the saints of God as we gather here today – and I dare to paraphrase: “Remember you are blessed, always and everywhere – but also wake up and remember, as a saint I have called you to a life that radiates my love in the world.”

Tears, laughter, income, and calories, do not draw the line between the Blessings and Woes mentioned in Luke’s Gospel (6:20-31) today. You and I draw that line. The difference between those who receive blessings and those who receive woes is not about what or how much you have. The difference is an openness to live for something beyond this world as it is now. Woes are promised to us who are comfortable, satisfied, and secure not because we are rich, but because we may become self-satisfied and complacent. This almost always attaches us to things as they are and then we do all we can to keep it that way. There is no openness and no receptivity to a new life or a new world. Woe to us convinced we have no need for change. Blessings are promised to us who are empty, weak, and grieving not because there is glory in poverty or misery, but because we are open, receptive, and looking for a new world. We look for something other than the values of this world to rule our lives, provide meaning, and dignity to each other. We may live in this world, but we look toward and work for, another world.

Has this not always been the case? Some of our greatest Christian pioneers had to campaign against their own Christian brothers and sisters who were quite comfortable with the world as it was – the Status Quo – with no need for change. Think of:
• William Wilberforce in relation to the Slave Trade?
• William Henry Cooper in relation to Clerical Poverty?
• Dietrich Bonhoeffer in relation to Nazi Germany?
They are the saints, whether canonized by the Christian Church or not.

Jesus is not describing in Luke’s Gospel a system of rewards and punishments. He is describing two ways of living and their consequences. It is a choice we make every day of our lives. Truthfully, we are not one or the other, a people of blessings or a people of woes. We are both. The saints we celebrate today faced the same choices we do. But they are set apart, ‘Holy’ and different from others because of who they allowed to rule their lives, who they lived for, and sometimes who they died for – Jesus Christ. This freed them in the face of poverty, hunger, mourning, exclusion and defamation, spiritual or material, to live expectantly for God.

Saints become ‘Transparent’ – and in that ‘Transparency’ we reveal something more than our individual net worth, or social status. We reveal God’s Light – as brilliant and as beautiful as any that shines through the saints in our stained-glass windows. We are not the Light – we never were and should not pretend to be. But we can add colour and shape to God’s Light if we allow it to shine through us. Or, to quote Canon William Henry Cooper when he founded the College of St Barnabas, we all have the potential to reveal, “The beginning of a Great Work!” Amen.

College of St Barnabas has record breaking year at CRE

The College of St Barnabas received an all time record number of visitors during CRE 2013 at Sandown Park. In previous years the College expected to meet some 400 people during the four days of the exhibition. This year they received almost 500 visitors to the stand.

“We have been delighted with the response this year,” commented the Warden, Fr Howard Such. “We have not only seen more people, but made better and more informed contacts than ever before. This shows the benefit of committing to the exhibition over a period of time. As well as exhibiting at Birmingham in October, we shall certainly be back at Sandown next year for more!”

Among those who visited the College stand were authors Adrian Plass and John Cox (seen here with his twin brother Paul) and Larry Bush, who is Chairman of the Giving Committee at Hexham Abbey who regularly support the work of the College, as well as being a fellow exhibitor as a director of Traidcraft.