Over 150 people attended the first of two Bishop’s Bible Days at Peterborough Cathedral on Saturday (24th February).
The theme of the day – the first to ever be held at the Cathedral – was ‘St Paul for today’, and featured a meditation on Paul’s conversion (led by Canon Missioner Sarah Brown), two talks from Bishop Donald, two workshops (out of a choice of 13), and a Q&A session with both Bishop Donald and the Archdeacon of Oakham, Gordon Steele.
Since its inception in 2011, the Bishop’s Bible Day has provided a chance for parishioners across the Diocese to get together, attend workshops and study the Bible collectively. The day is designed to be for ‘anyone who uses the Bible in their ministry, in church, in school, at work, in the community or at home’, and at the Cathedral, parishioners listened intently as Bishop Donald described Paul as the ‘greatest theologian of the early church’.
Bishop Donald’s talks focused on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and how he sought to overturn the legalism of the time – the belief that Christianity was about keeping a list of commandments and rules. In the words of Bishop Donald, ‘God loves you; his Grace is poured out on you; his forgiveness is free. God loves us because he’s our Father. Galatians is there to help us overturn religion. It replaces religion with Jesus’.
He was keen to stress, though, that this doesn’t give Christians carte blanche to do whatever they like. Instead, obedience should be a natural response to God’s love: ‘What matters is knowing Christ, walking with Christ and keeping the law of Christ’.
Attendees also had the chance to attend two workshops to look deeper into Paul’s life, teaching and example. There were a choice of 13 workshops to choose from:
- A ministry refresher: Lessons from 2 Timothy for weary leaders (led by Andy Byfield)
- Apostolic Ambition: What did Paul want for his life, and how can this give us a sense of purpose? (Andrew Coleby)
- Before the road to Damascus (Carys Walsh – examining Paul’s pre-conversion life)
- Brief encounter: Meeting Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles (Roger Woods – looking at how Jesus and Paul are much more linked than people may think)
- Exploring your vocation with Paul’s companions (Jenny Opperman)
- ‘He welcomed us to sit and eat with him’: Including young children in Holy Communion (Pete White – exploring the question of whether children should receive communion if they haven’t been confirmed)
- How do we handle differences in the church? A look at 1 Corinthians (Linnet Smith – looking at how there have always been (and always will be) differences of opinion within the church, and what can done to solve them)
- Men and women in worship: A closer look at 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 (Chrys Tremththanmor)
- Paul and Timothy: How to mentor a new generation of leaders (Charlie Nobbs)
- Paul’s pilgrimage to Mecca (Adrian Holdstock – an observation as to how Paul may have dealt with Islam, and Christians can interact themselves with Muslims)
- Rest: The new rebellion (Chad Chadwick – exploring ideas of how the church can incorporate periods of rest into their schedules)
- ‘We have no young families in our church. How do we attract them?’ (Charlotte Nobbs)
- Would Paul be on Facebook? (Becky Wills and Chad Chadwick – a debate as to why Paul would (Becky) and would not (Chad) have been on Facebook, and a wider examination of the world of social media)
While only 5% of the national population are attending church on a Sunday, numbers in the Peterborough diocese are increasing, and such has been the demand for the Bishop’s Bible Day that two such days are being held in 2018 for the first time. The second will take place at Northampton High School in Hardingstone next Saturday (3rd March).