Women clergy from across Lancashire have gathered at the Diocesan Prayer and Discipleship Centre at Whalley Abbey in beautiful Ribble Valley from today, at the start of a 24-hour conference.
The first conference of its kind for our Diocese, it has been coordinated by our Dean of Women's Ministry, Rev. Anne Beverley, who is also the Vicar of Christ Church, Wesham and the Area Dean of Kirkham.
Clergy began gathering for 10.30am this morning and the conference runs until 2pm tomorrow (May 24).
Anne, pictured here, said today: "As part of our Diocesan policy to encourage and promote women in ministry, this conference has been a long time in the planning.
"There has been a real sense of anticipation about it.
"We felt it would be a great way to provide an opportunity for women clergy to get together and to learn from each other.
"Across the 24 hours the conference will be supported by a range of excellent speakers; there will be chance for time out in prayer and reflection as well as the all-important opportunity to socialise together!"
The overarching theme is 'Jars of Clay' (from the Bible passage 2 Corinthians 4) and the event will seek to support clergy in managing their personal resilience.
A wide range of topics will be covered by the invited speakers.
Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, the Anglican Bishop of Lancaster, will discuss the place of following Jesus to the cross; Rt Rev. Philip North, the Bishop of Blackburn, will speak on finding resilience in ministry and Anne will speak on the topic 'Being Vulnerable, Not Weak'
Meanwhile, Vicar of Lancaster and Assistant Archdeacon of Lancaster, Rev. Leah Vasey-Saunders, will reflect on 'What is our Treasure?' for her talk while Rev Fleur Green, who is Vicar of Broughton Parish and Assistant Archdeacon of Lancaster, will discuss recovering from difficult situations and growing stronger as a result.
Across the 24 hours, clergy attending the conference will also be invited to consider ways to ensure they are caring for themselves as they undertake their day-to-day ministry.
Anne continued: "There are certain challenges unique to women in ministry, for example combining ministry and motherhood.
"Being able to share and build relationships with others from across the Diocese who may be going through the same things as you can be really powerful and important."
Bishop Jill, pictured, who runs regular women's networking events, added: "We have such fantastic women clergy in Lancashire.
"I hope and pray this special time away together in the context of worship, food and fun will replenish His light and grace and excavate our 'buried treasure'."
Pictures on this page from very top to bottom show ...
Clergy took part in activity sessions connected to the theme of 'Jars of Clay' as part of the first morning of the conference.
Women clergy from across Lancashire gather on the steps of Whalley Abbey's retreat house at the start of their 24-hour conference.
Bishop Jill (left) and Rev. Anne Beverley with one of the conference bags bearing the 'jars of clay' verse from 2 Corinthians
In the foreground, Rev. Leah Vasey-Saunders, Vicar of Lancaster, left, and Rev. Sarah Gill, Bishop's Adviser on UKME matters and Vicar of St Stephen's with St James' Blackburn with other clergy during a break on the first morning of the conference.
Ronnie Semley, May 2023