Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, we remember that he is the light who brings us out of darkness. As it says in Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).
We celebrate Christmas just after the shortest day in the year, at a time when light begins to re-enter the world, taking us out of the darkest days of winter. The coming of light is a sign of hope, and reflects that hope which Jesus brings to our world. St John says in his Gospel that Jesus “gives life to the world” (John 6:33) through his birth. In amongst the hustle and bustle of preparations for Christmas, we might ask ourselves, how do we bring light and hope to our communities?
Over the past year, people in parishes across Hampshire and Dorset have been thinking about their answers to this question, as we seek to nurture the mission taking place within our communities in Winchester Diocese. Living the mission of Jesus may sound like an impossible challenge, but put simply, it means that we aim to live out our Christian faith by becoming agents of social transformation in our local communities and working for their benefit.
This year we became the first Diocese in the country to appoint an Archdeacon for Mission Development, a senior priest who is supporting our work in this area. We’re proud that recent figures from the national Church showed that over 2,700 volunteers from our churches are supporting children, young people and families across Hampshire and East Dorset, a figure which represents nearly 1,000 more volunteers than the national average. However, we want to grow this work further, and next year we will be looking to explore even more ways in which we can offer support to local people.
In doing this I hope that we too will “give life to the world”, seeking, like Jesus, to be beacons of hope for our local communities. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this month, my thoughts and prayers will be for all who strive to make a positive difference to their local communities, especially here in Winchester Diocese.
I wish you all a truly happy Christmas and New Year.
Reverend Andy Wilson has become Havant and Waterlooville Football Club's new chaplain.
The vicar from Portsmouth's Anglican diocese will offer spiritual support to people of all faiths and those of no faith.
"I will be there to listen and offer support to anyone at the club who wants it. It is an exciting role for me to take on and I'm looking forward to getting to know the players and staff"
Tonight for the first time in its history, a girls choir will perform a Christmas Concert at Canterbury Cathedral.
The formation of the all girl choir in January ended a one-thousand year tradition of all male choristry at the Cathedral.
A unique event will take place at Canterbury Cathedral in December, when its first ever all-girls' choir perform their first public Christmas concert.
The choir was formed in January this year and is made up of 16 mainly local girls aged between 12 and 18 years old.
Their first performance attracted over 600 people, and they are now busy rehearsing for their Christmas debut.
They also performed at the service held to mark the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women priests this year.
The concert will take place on 5th December in the cathedral's Nave.
The new Dean of Chichester is to be announced by ten Downing Street today. The Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling retired early this year - after twelve years in the post. The new Dean will formally take up the post in February.
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, has expressed his ‘great joy’ that the legislation allowing women to become Church of England bishops has passed its final hurdle.
The Church of England has now formally adopted legislation which means its first female bishops could be ordained next year.
It was a great joy to go to General Synod to vote on the ordination of women to the episcopate for the last time. Alleluia!
Last night in Salisbury Cathedral, there was a service to mark 20 years of women in priestly ministry. We looked back with thanksgiving and forward with hope. For women to minister alongside men in all three orders of ordained ministry is in George Herbert's phrase, ‘heaven in ordinary ’ and, for the C of E, ‘something understood’.
Today is the final day of Diwali - the Festival of Light. Sikh and Hindu communities across our region are celebrating faith, freedom, family and food.
It's an extra special Diwali for Hindus in Reading - the renovation of the town's new temple is almost complete. Divya Kohli has been along to see why the Festival of Light will be even brighter.
The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton has resigned after admitting that he's broken his vows as a Catholic priest. Kieran Conry issued a statement apologising for what he called the shame that he has brought on the diocese and the church. The sixty-three year old said he'd been "unfaithful", leading to speculation that he's had a sexual relationship. Malcolm Shaw reports.
A Catholic bishop has apologised to churchgoers after he resigned from his post, claiming to have brought "shame" on his diocese and the church. The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, who is Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, covering Surrey and Sussex, issued a statement which said he had "been unfaithful to his promises as a Catholic priest".
The statement, which was being read in all churches of the diocese this weekend, said: "I am sorry to confess that, going back some years, I have been unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest."
The new Bishop of Basingstoke has been consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Winchester Cathedral. Reverend Canon David Williams grew up in Uganda before becoming Vicar of Christ Church in Winchester in 2002.