The team (l-r): Revd Liam O'Boyle (S&N), Bishop Alastair (Derby), James Henderson (Lichfield), Alison Gardner (S&N), Pippa Rowen (Derby)
On Thursday 3rd May the dioceses of Lichfield, Southwell & Nottingham and Derby held a joint service at Derby Cathedral all about modern slavery. Pippa Rowen from the Diocese of Derby tells us how it came about.
"Modern slavery does not respect geographical boundaries so there needs to be a coordinated response across diocesan borders: we need to be good neighbours!

Although there is value in mobilising our community either through awareness raising or volunteering with victims, this can feel like a one way journey! Lots of giving of time and energy by volunteers, sometimes with no obvious results or benefit. It is easy to lose motivation despite the Gospel imperative that we seek to fulfil with anti-slavery work.

Lichfield, Southwell & Nottingham, and Derby dioceses have been working closely with local modern slavery partnerships for some time; this led to a conversation between us as we waited for our trains after a Clewer Initiative meeting. All three of us had done the public facing events; working to strengthen links with the police and statutory agencies and inspiring parishes to do ‘something’ to tackle slavery. Maybe it was time for a spiritual response to reboot ourselves and our colleagues?

On 3rd May at Derby Cathedral, Bishop Alastair Redfern, the Bishop of Derby, hosted a tri-diocesan evening ‘Bread for the Wilderness’. We gathered together from across the dioceses for spiritual nourishment in a variety of styles: a special choral evensong with a rousing rendition of Amazing Grace to start us off, prayers by Revd Liam O'Boyle, from Southwell & Nottingham, and the Gospel reading – Luke 4:14-21 - by Lindsey from Lichfield.

THE PRAYER STATIONS

Afterwards we gathered to listen as Bishop Alastair talked about the global picture of suffering and indifference; and anti-slavery work as mission for Christians but also creating partnerships with our interfaith colleagues.

Carolyn from Derby led a guided meditation using Exodus 17-18 to create a space for our own reflections about setting captives free: we were reminded that we are not alone in this endeavour - although sometimes it can feel like it!

Lichfield and Derby dioceses, with the Medaille Trust, provided six prayer stations around the Cathedral for private contemplation and also a bit of targeted prayer. At the end of the evening Bishop Alastair brought us together at the altar for a commissioning and blessing.

After the obligatory coffee and cake with new friends from across the dioceses, we left refreshed and invigorated for the fight ahead!

Through our partnership with the Clewer Initiative, it has enabled us to partner with neighbouring Diocese to share learning and good practice. It is only by working together that we will see and end to the evil of slavery in our communities. We left the event profoundly moved once again by this horrific injustice but also reenergised to continue the fight and hopeful in terms of the wide range of church groups supporting this movement, and saying we see you to those trapped in modern slavery. Together we’re prepared to do something about it!
— James Henderson, Transforming Communities Together