Bishop’s Letter: The Call to Teach
“Is God calling you to teach?
Equally importantly, are we supporting those in our congregations who are teachers?
Are we praying for them?
Are we highlighting their work?”
Recently I called into All Saints’ Leighton Buzzard. As part of their participation in ‘Thy Kingdom Come,’ the parish had created an interactive trail around the church. Developed in partnership with Pulford Lower School, one of our Diocese’s ‘Outstanding’ schools, it focused on the church’s year. I especially remember fishing with a magnetic rod for fish which carried the names of the Apostles, and a vibrant display of balloons along with a model flickering fire that was an expression of Pentecost. Not only were the whole of Pulford School going to follow the trail, it was also to welcome other schools from across the town.
It is just one example of the inspiring work that is being developed by partnership between parishes and their church schools. In the tiny village of Sutton, there is a Friday afternoon school service in church that not only involves the children but is also attended by many of their parents and carers. Last autumn, a Spirituality Day at both Wymington and Poddington schools, saw staff, governors and volunteers from the local churches involved in an exciting day of prayer activities. The Spring Newsletter of our Diocesan Board of Education includes news of an RE Day at St Michael’s, Bishop’s Stortford, a ‘stained’ glass window workshop at Welwyn St Mary’s and a ‘Trinity Day’ at St John’s, Radlett. There are also, of course, good examples of local churches working with community schools. Our focus is not just church schools, but the nurture and flourishing of all young people as precious in the sight of God.
On my visit to Leighton Buzzard, as elsewhere, I was very conscious of the crucial input of Christian teachers. Pulford Lower School is led by people of strong faith who both lead their school with Christian vision and inspiration, and also play a crucial role in the partnership with the parish. They are not alone. But that visit reminded me of the importance of encouraging Christian people to become teachers. It is a vital area of vocation where the opportunity to serve and witness to Jesus through the education of the young is so significant. Church schools are valued by so many parents, especially for their ethos and Christian identity. For that to continue, we need Christian teachers and headteachers. Is God calling you to teach?
Equally importantly, are we supporting those in our congregations who are teachers? Are we praying for them? Are we highlighting their work? I remember reading this telling comment from a teacher: I teach Sunday school 45 minutes a week and they haul me up to the front of the church to pray for me. I teach in a school 45 hours a week and the church has never prayed for me. What do we need to do to celebrate those in our churches who teach? There is so much more we can do!
Thank you to those of you who teach. May God bless you.
Bishop Richard, Bedford