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Wearing and sharing faith in the Diocese of Sheffield

Following the successful Wear Your Faith Fortnight collaboration between Lights for Christ and Arise Sheffield more people have come forward to talk about how they’ve used this opportunity to share their faith with others.

(The campaign ran from the 24th October to the 7th November)

The Diocese of Sheffield’s Lights for Christ Enabler, Hannah Sandoval, has helped to encourage these discussions and has prompted people to come forward and share their individual stories of sharing faith.

We’ve put together several of these responses below, and are grateful for everyone who has contributed to these encouraging stories.

Geoff Fellows is a Church Warden at Wath with Brampton:

“As we move through Advent, we have plenty of other services and events to look forward to with anticipation. On Wednesday December 7th at 6.30pm we held a really special service at All Saints, when Charles, John and Rachel were formally welcomed to their ‘new’ roles of Vicar, Associate Priest and Centenary Project Worker. It was led by the Bishop of Doncaster, Sophie Jelley; the Archdeacon of Doncaster, Javaid Iqbal; the Area Dean, Andy Brewerton; and a representative from our Patrons, Christ Church, Oxford, David Knight.

“There is, however, a potential banana skin lurking amongst the excitement. If we think that this will solve all our problems and we can leave it all up to the three officials, then we are going to ‘come a real cropper’! As John has said more than once recently, ‘We are all part of the church of Christ and all charged with spreading the word.’ It is not just the clergy who need to proclaim the Gospel, but we all should. Around the walls of our church are the words of a prayer by St. Teressa. ‘Christ has no body now on Earth but ours.’ I’m sure you all know the rest of it, but that means us.

“I must admit that I have definitely fallen into the category of leaving it up to those paid to do it, so sorry, guilty as charged. However, we recently had some badges given out with the slogan, ‘wear your faith for a fortnight’. I think this has had a strange effect on me in that I almost wanted people to ask me why I was wearing the badge. It says ‘Treasure God’s Earth’. Only one person commented. He asked if I was wearing the badge to save the environment or for my faith. I replied that it was for my faith. He changed the subject, but now I wear a visible symbol of Christianity all the time. I’ve changed it for my Mothers’ Union badge because that actually has a cross on it and is, therefore, more explicit, but also, because it pins on, I don’t keep losing the back of it!”

Jo Hopkins is a GP and attends St John’s Owlerton:

“Here I am in my surgery wearing my sweat shirt designed by one of the youth at our church. I decided I should wear this during WYFF and it prompted conversation with both colleagues and patients. 

“Hope is a universal need. I was able to talk about hope in general and to some my hope which comes from my faith, I am glad the diocese suggested this.”

Carol Rashid is a Reader at St Lawrence Church in Hatfield:

“I can confirm that I regularly wear my readers pin, particularly on a jacket that I use for funeral visits. It enables me to ‘wear my faith’ and has often come into conversation when explaining my faith journey and how I became authorised to conduct funerals. I’ve found that the general public don’t always understand what a ‘Reader’ is so they often ask the question.

“It’s wonderful when windows of opportunity to share our faith are revealed to us, especially when we draw alongside those who are grieving – of course, having a pastoral heart and being sensitive towards any given situation is paramount and begins with listening – wearing our faith helps us to engage with one another at a much deeper level when opportunities or questions arise.”

Chris Wroot attends church in Cantley:

“The WYFF badges were received very well in church and everyone took one and it filled my heart with joy to see people wearing them both at Bible study during the week and in church the following Sunday. I was even able to give some out to friends outside of our church who were also then able to show their faith.

“I had some interest in the badge at work because I wore it on my Doncaster council shirt. This was from both colleagues and people in the local community, asking me what it was and what it meant. It was a great opportunity for mission to explain why we are spending time wearing our faith. I have kept mine on so I can continue to share my faith with the people I meet in my day to day life.”

Father Grant Naylor SSC is the Vicar at St Matthew’s Church Carver Street:

“I normally wear my cassock around the parish and sometimes people think ‘is that not off-putting? Does that not always create a barrier?’ But I find the opposite. I find that young people want to come and engage and ask questions.

“I’m a priest of the Society of the Holy Cross, and on the cross I wear it says ‘in hoc signo vinces’, which means ‘in this sign overcome’. Often the things that we can wear speak about the things that are in our hearts; that’s the most important thing.”

Revd John Hibberd is a Mission Development Adviser:

“I sometimes wear a hoodie that I’ve used on a mission in South Wales, which is in both English and Welsh. It says ‘taith dewi sant’ on the front, and on the back it says ‘how lovely are the feet of those who bring good news.’ We’ve used hoodies like these on missions because they elicit questions from people.

“People see you in these and they say ‘what is that about?’ You then have an opportunity to talk to people. It’s a bit like wearing a dog collar in that people will see you as someone they could come up to; they have permission to engage with you. It’s a great way to identify and engage with people.”

Malcolm Chamberlain is the Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham:

“I have the advantage of being able to wear a clerical collar, which makes me pretty identifiable as a Christian. But I’m also delighted with the brilliant badges which were produced during Wear Your Faith Fortnight to help us wear our faith and initiate faith conversations with our friends and neighbours. I’m going to keep wearing my badge. In our world that is facing such instability and anxiety, let’s go public with the hope and love that we have in Jesus Christ.”

The Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox is the Bishop of Sheffield:

“I wear a pectoral cross as part of my uniform. I think I’m the only bishop in the Church of England wearing a stainless-steel pectoral cross; that matters to me because I want to feel I belong to Sheffield, and it was made for me and given to me when I was appointed.

“I love to wear this every day as a reminder of the Jesus whose servant I am. I think most people now think of the cross as a symbol of Christianity or a symbol of the church. It’s very recognisable, but people associate it with church and Christianity. For me, the really important thing about this is it reminds me of Jesus and the death He died for the salvation of the world.”

The Rt Revd Sophie Jelley is the Bishop of Doncaster:

“As a bishop I wear what’s known as a pectoral cross – a large cross around my neck on a chain. It makes it obvious that I’m not only a bishop but I’m also a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m proud to be a Christian, I pray every day. I read His word and I try to do what He wants me to do in my daily life.

“Quite often I’m sitting on a train or travelling somewhere wearing my dog collar, and perhaps my cross as well; it will open up a conversation with a stranger, someone who asks me ‘why do you wear a cross?’ Or they look at me particularly knowing that I’m a clergy person and they want to talk about God.”

Revd Adam Priestley is from Resurrection Doncaster:

“I love wearing clothes which would just tell people about Jesus in a certain way. The jumper I wear says ‘Jesus Liebt Dich’ – which means ‘Jesus loves you’ in German. I love it because I see people always respond to clothing.

“I had a man ask me a few months ago about the jumper I was wearing, and I responded by saying ‘do you know that Jesus loves you?’ He looked back at me and I just saw in his face that there was some connection somewhere with him. So I’m always wanting to wear clothes that just talk about Jesus or just show him in some particular way.”

You can find more resources and look at ways of sharing your faith here: Diocese of Sheffield – Lights for Christ