Simon Bessant is the Vicar of St Saviour’s High Green. Additionally he is also priest in charge (church speak for vicar with limited legal status) of St Mark’s Grenoside.
He has previously been in ministry in parishes in Liverpool, inner London, Blackburn and Ecclesall (Sheffield). For nine years he was the Director of Mission for Blackburn Diocese (Lancashire) and remains a Canon Emeritus of its Cathedral.
Simon admits to a six at the beginning of his age but wishes it to be known that he doesn’t, and never has, used hair colouring! He is married to Ruth and they have three daughters and five grandchildren.
Simon’s contact details:
0114 418 2036
Simon’s history, for those who want to know a bit more…
Simon Bessant was instituted as the Vicar of St Saviour’s High Green in the north of Sheffield on 24th April 2012. He is passionate about worship, preaching, mission and growth. He is also unashamedly Anglican and committed to both the Diocese and the Church of England. Simon is committed to mission, and believes that the Five Marks of Mission of the Worldwide Anglican Communion is probably the best definition that is currently available:
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
Alongside of the traditional aspects of being a vicar (prayer, leading worship, baptising people, taking funerals, being a community leader, visiting the sick etc, all of which he loves doing) Simon believes that he has a particular challenge in his as the leader of a church that works through teamwork. This he believes is:
To discern, articulate and promote the church’s vision and mission.
To preach the gospel to those who have not encountered it in a way that is accessible and meaningful to them within their own culture.
To plan, resource and lead worship that resonates with people’s search for spiritual meaning and which enables them to enter the Christian story, to make it their own and to find purpose and direction in their lives through it.
To teach scripture to church members so that they are made aware of their identity in Christ and to discern their role in the world through the sharing of the good news and participation of the coming of God’s kingdom of love, peace and justice.
To enable every member ministry within the church through giving people clear areas of responsibility with appropriate support, training, accountability structures and encouragement.
To make sure that the church has the right spiritual energy and appropriate structures so that it is able to grow, both in quality and quantity, for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
Whilst some of this responsibility is shared with others, Simon believes he has the particular task of keeping these particular aspects central to his leadership.
Family Married to Ruth in 1978 with three children and five grandchildren
1974-77 Studied at Sheffield University
1977-78 Worked in the Housing Department of Sheffield City Council
1978-81 Studied at St John’s College Nottingham (a vicar factory!) and Nottingham University
1981 Ordained in Liverpool Cathedral
1981-84 Curate in Liverpool
1984-85 Curate in Holloway (inner London)
1985-91 Priest in Charge (same parish)
1991-98 Vicar of Church of the Redeemer in Blackburn
1998-99 Rural Dean of Blackburn
1998-2007 Director for Mission in Blackburn Diocese
2000 MA in Mission Studies from Cliff College & Sheffield University
2001-2015 Member of General Synod
2002-2005 Director for CME 1-4 (training curates)
2005-2007 Honorary Canon Blackburn Cathedral (now Emeritus)
2006-2007 Member of Archbishops’ Council
2007-2012 Vicar of All Saints Ecclesall, Sheffield
2012+ Vicar of St Saviour’s High Green, Sheffield
2014+ Vicar of St Mark’s Grenoside (in addition to St Saviour’s)
From 1998 to 2007 Simon was the Director of Mission for Blackburn Diocese, being the Executive Officer of the Board of Mission and Unity. His portfolio included evangelism & church growth as well as ecumenism, world mission and Diocesan links with Germany and South Africa. Simon also had a major commitment to inter faith work during these years. He set up Lancashire Council of Faiths and worked very closely with Lancashire Council of Mosques. During the time that Simon was a Diocesan officer without a parish he led worship and preached in churches all over Lancashire as well as leading parish missions, taking PCC away days, leading quiet days and speaking at Alpha courses etc. For three years Simon worked with three colleagues, from very varied churchmanship, in developing, training and encouraging the parishes of Blackburn Diocese with the task of creating a culture of growth under the title of “Growing Up; Growing Out”. The team worked closely with the Bishop in setting up Mission Action Planning in the Diocese and supported this by teaching the Leading Your Church Into Growth course to all the clergy of the Diocese who responded to the Bishop’s invitation. This was the one of the most creative and fulfilling periods of Simon’s ministry. During these years he was also a member of the Bishop’s Extended Staff Team.
Simon was an elected member of General Synod from 2001-2007 for Blackburn Diocese and then from 2008 onwards by Sheffield Diocese. During this period he gained a little notoriety for successfully getting Synod to accept both his private member’s motion articulating the Church’s strong opposition to the BNP and his amendment to a Diocesan motion which led to the Church of England apologising for its role in the slave trade to the descendents of those who had been the victims of this gross injustice. He was labelled “a strident vicar from Lancashire” by the Daily Mail and made it to the front page of the Daily Telegraph in 2004.
For several years he was elected from within Synod to be a member of the Mission & Public Affairs Council and was involved in helping to shape and develop the Church of England’s work in mission and social responsibility. In particular he played an advisory role in regard to “Mission Shaped Church” and was a member of the national group on ministry and other faith communities which produced the report “Presence and Engagement”. Additionally, Synod nominated him to serve on a group creating legislation for the new Dioceses Mission & Pastoral Measure which would enable rather than restrict mission opportunities. He operated in this group as a mission consultant. He then chaired a group which wrote the Code of Practice for the House of Bishop for Fresh Expressions, seeking to integrate missiological, ecclesiological and legal issues. He then worked with the Church Commissioners in commending the Measure through roadshows around the country. Finally, for a period Simon represented the Church of England as a member of the Churches’ Commission for Racial Justice.
In 2006 Simon was elected to the Archbishops’ Council and therefore had a role in the governance of the Church of England. During his time in this role he sought to fly the flag for evangelism, mission, church growth, inter faith issues, racial justice and the needs of the parochial clergy. He resigned this post in 2007 upon his appointment to Ecclesall.
Before moving to Sheffield in 1977, Simon was invited to returnt to his old theological college, St John’s College Nottingham for a term. Simon lived midweek at the college lecturing in mission studies. During the evenings he studied leadership issues in church life. He really valued this time of preparation before moving to Sheffield and was grateful to the Bishop of Blackburn for granting him study leave.
During his time at Ecclesall, Simon initiated a community Arts Festival, doubled the size of the preaching team, changed the management structure, created new services (Advent Carol Service, Dawn Easter Service with torches and champagne!), appointed additional members of staff and created a reception area combined with a new parish office in the church halls. Ecclesall had an average Sunday attendance of over 500 and saw numerical growth during his time as incumbent.
In April 2012 Simon moved from Ecclesall to become Vicar of St Saviour’s High Green in the far north of Sheffield. Then in May 2014 Simon was given the additional ministry of being Priest in Charge (church speak for vicar with limited legal status) of St Mark’s Grenoside.
In his spare time, Simon likes walking old railway lines, experimental fish cookery and listening to Schoenberg.