The Order of St Ethelbert -
Honouring those who serve
A note from the Bishop and Dean:
The Order of St Ethelbert is awarded to those in the diocese of Hereford who have given long and distinguished service to the diocese.Our parishes are wonderfully served by men and women who give selflessly of their time and skills and to uphold the life and ministry of our communities.Of course, we understand that this service is so often given with no thought of reward or recognition but we also know that many parish clergy and fellow parishioners/members of communities would value a means of celebrating the devotion of those in their midst.Many dioceses now have ‘orders’ or ‘companies’ of those who are honoured for their service and the past two years has demonstrated that this is a popular and respected means of offering that recognition.
Why St Ethelbert?
St Ethelbert, Saxon saint of the Cathedral, is chosen as a focus for this for several reasons:
- he exemplified courage and perseverance
- his life speaks of healing and light
- he provides an enduring link between Cathedral and diocese.
How is the order administered?
Previously, Rural Deans have been circulated with information on the Order and asked to contact their deanery clergy to invite and agree nominations. We are now opening the possibility of nomination to all, clergy and laity, as sometimes the nomination process doesn’t fit in with Deanery Synod/Deanery Chapter and it is possible that people are missing out.Nominations should be submitted on the attached form and those who nominate are asked to have their form signed by their parish priest.We hope that the parish priest will also write an endorsement in support of a nomination.The completed form should then be submitted to the Dean, who will convene a small committee, including the Bishop, the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire and the Chair of the House of Laity of the diocese.
When nominations have been discussed and agreed, the Bishop will write, confidentially, to successful nominees, inviting them to accept nomination and inviting them to come to the Cathedral for a special service and presentation.
Who may be nominated?
There are no guidelines for this as we feel that there are so many reasons why a person might be nominated.However, in our experience, there are often those whose long service shines out and who clergy and others in local communities would really value the opportunity to celebrate and salute. In 2017, some of the reasons for successful nomination were as follows:
- for outstanding work as a parish organist for 45 years
- for outstanding support for the ministry of Readers in the diocese
- for longstanding work in maintaining and developing the link with Nuremberg
- for tireless work for the elderly, through lunch clubs and other events
- for outstanding work in a parish – as Reader, School Governor and through the night shelter and the Healing Ministry
- for service to the community as a local Undertaker
Nominations have tended to be for very long service and a lifetime’s work in parishes and communities but there is no reason why a young person should not be nominated, provided evidence is given of faithful and widely-recognised service and work. It is now perfectly possible to nominate a couple as we understand this is important in some cases.
Please will those who nominate, be careful not to discuss the nomination with the person they have in mind. We try to keep this confidential until they have the lovely surprise of receiving a letter from the Bishop.
What is the process?
Nomination forms should be returned to the Dean by 4 June 2018 and the small committee will then meet and agree names.The Bishop will then write to each person nominated, inviting them to come to an evensong and presentation on Sunday 14 October 2018.We intend to choose no more than 20 each year.Experience has shown us that this number of recipients, with family and friends, more than fills the Cathedral!So inevitably, depending on the number of nominations, there are bound to be disappointments.However, we will repeat the process and it may be that those nominated but not chosen previously will be put forward again, as nominators choose.
Each recipient will be awarded a lapel badge depicting the three crowns from the shield of St Ethelbert, along with a certificate, signed by the Bishop and Dean.We plan to celebrate our recipients in diocesan media and in the local and national press and our hope is that the scheme will be embraced as a useful means of saying thank-you to some of our key supporters and workers. We especially hope that members of the Order will want to join in celebrations at the Cathedral each year on the feast of St Ethelbert – on or around 20 May. No such scheme is perfect and we all know that the vast majority of our people serve their church communities because of their love of the Lord and his own example of humility and self-giving but we are also human beings and know that we all respond to encouragement and appreciation and so we offer the present scheme in that hope and confidence.