New director of world mission for the Diocese of Lichfield

The Revd Philip Swan

The Revd Philip Swan

A vicar who developed an in interest in the world-church during a gap year in Nazareth is to be the new director of world mission for the Diocese of Lichfield.

The Revd Philip Swan, who had previously spent a year working at a mission hospital in the Holy Land in 1975, told his current congregations at Lickey and Blackwell in Birmingham that he will be leaving later this year to take up his new role in January 2010.

As director of world mission he will be responsible for managing the mission partnerships between the Diocese of Lichfield and its partner Anglican dioceses in Matlosane (South Africa), West Malaysia, Kuching and Singapore (South East Asia) and Qu’appelle (Canada) and also with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg in north-east Germany. That partnership, which is 20 years old, is to be extended next week when the Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Gordon Mursell, and the Landesbischof of Mecklenburg, the Rt Revd Andreas von Maltzahn, sign a new five-year agreement during a service in Gƒstrow Cathedral on September 19.

He will be responsible, amongst other things, for co-ordinating the work of the St Chad╒s Trust, which sends young volunteers on visits of up to a year between churches in Malaysia and churches in the diocese of Lichfield; for developing and co-ordinating parish to parish links within the partner dioceses; organise reciprocal exchanges and joint mission programmes; and advise clergy and laity on short and longer-term service and sabbaticals in our companion dioceses, and also in other parts of the world.

He will also manage the three Episcopal Area World Development Advisors within the diocese and encourage the diocese’s push to become a Fairtrade Status Diocese and also serve as a member of the Bishop’s Lent Appeal Advisory Group, alongside the bishop’s chaplain and director of communications.

Speaking about his appointment, The Revd Philip Swan said:

“The world church has been important for me since my gap year in Palestine , then a period in East Africa looking at Rural Development work which was followed by two years in South India with the Church Missionary Society.

“For the last five years I have chaired the Birmingham Malawi Task Group – a diocesan link which has been continuing for more than 40 years. My own ministry has been greatly enriched through the link which has included spending a sabbatical in Malawi , leading a team on a work share programme there and overseeing a range of exchange visits. During the diocesan centenary year we invited a choir from Malawi to visit Birmingham.This was a real highlight and it was thrilling to see the positive impact this had on all who shared in this exchange of stories, gifts and faith.

“I very much look forward to coming to Lichfield; to building on the contribution made by Michael Sheard and so many others within the diocese in establishing relationships of mutual trust and appreciation with the existing overseas links in West Malaysia, Kuching and Singapore , Qu’Appelle, Matlosane and Mecklenburg.

“I am delighted to be joining a diocese which is Going for Growth and I believe that world mission has a vital part to play in helping us to fulfil that calling.”

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, said:

“I am delighted that Philip will be joining us to take on this important area of work. The Church of England is rooted in parochial ministry and it is right that the primary focus of our ministry is at parish level. But it is equally important that in our work and ministry in the streets of our villages, towns and cities, that we never forget that we are part of not just the wider Church of England and the Anglican Communion, but the worldwide church of God.

“Philip Swan will help us to focus on that, and enable the diocese to respond to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our Lord’s calling to play a full part in the global partnership of God’s people in Christian mission.”

The appointment has been welcomed in South East Asia, where the Rt Revd Moon Hing, Bishop of West Malaysia (a diocese which is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year), said:

“It is so nice to know that Lichfield has found a replacement for the post of the World Mission Officer. We in West Malaysia welcome this news and are happy to meet and work with Philip Swan. We wish Lichfield and Philip God’s richest blessings.”

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