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Meet the Bishop of Sheffield’s new Spirituality Adviser

The new Bishop’s Adviser for Spirituality says he’s looking to build on the foundations in place – and help with collective inspiration – as he starts his role.

The Revd Dr Julian Raffay was licensed into the role by the Acting Bishop of Sheffield and Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Revd Sophie Jelley, at the end of February. Having a started work in mental health prior to ordination, Julian was ordained as priest in the Church of England in 1991. He continued mental health chaplaincy in between different spells in curacy and more recently research, whilst also serving at different churches in the Diocese of Sheffield, including as Team Vicar of Gleadless and Vicar of St John’s Deepcar.

Julian has delivered talks and seminars across the country over the years on mental health, and has published research papers on mental health practice. His recent appointments include being Director of Chaplaincy Studies at St Padarn’s Institute, being a Tutor at All Saints Centre for Mission and Ministry, and he is member of the Practical Theology Editorial Board. He has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology with Management Science from the University of Stirling, a BA (Hons) in Theology from Cranmer Hall at St John’s College (Durham University), an MTh in Chaplaincy Studies (Health) at Cardiff University and a DThM from Durham University.

He currently juggles ministry in various roles, including acute hospital chaplaincy and the bishop’s adviser role. Reflecting on his commitment to research and education within the NHS, Julian says the different strands of his work help to weave together: “a series of resources and perspectives out of which I seek to do my present work. I feel called to do work like this; it’s very much a sense of living and working by faith and responding to God’s call.

“The broad sweep of what I am undertaking is supporting spiritual accompaniment (or direction) in the Diocese. That includes ensuring that the infrastructure [underpinning spiritual accompaniment], works smoothly and efficiently, and that training programmes are available. More importantly, it’s about seeing how we can serve and bless the wider community, the Diocese and its churches through spiritual accompaniment.”

“It’s working very much in partnership with others and saying, ‘we’ve got this resource, we’ve got this talent. How does that relate to the wider task of the mission of God? How does that relate to the diverse population within our diocese? And how do we ensure to the best of our abilities that people with gifts and inspiration are drawn to become spiritual accompaniers?’”

Part of Julian’s role is to encourage a wider range of people to make use of the resources or to offer similar resources themselves. He was approached by Bishop Pete for the position, who felt Julian’s blend of experience and gifts would work well in the Diocese.

When asked what he’s hoping to achieve in the months ahead, Julian said:

“First of all – consolidation. I want to build on the foundations that are in place. Secondly, I hope I can help with inspiration. Thirdly, I am keen to support the geographical and demographic spread of spiritual direction across the Diocese, working in partnership with other projects to support and equip people in their ministries.”