Friday, 8 February 2008

The Fall of the Empire

Just after my ordination as a Deacon, the Canon in charge of our "potty training" (POT = Post-ordination training) said to us that whilst following our call to ministry had meant sacrifices, we were assured of a "job for life" in the Church of England. Some 11 years later I found myself between posts and signing-on as unemployed for 6 weeks. The Benefits Office didn't have a "vicar" classification on their books, and I had to be put down as a "Methodist minister". But apart from this minor hiccup in employment, at least the Church appeared to be steady and continuing.

Now I look around and hardly recognise the church that nurtured my faith and vocation. The breadth and openness of the Anglican Church has all but disappeared as views are polarised and lines drawn. We have schism in the Episcopal Church of the United States as a couple of "traditional" bishops attempt to take their Dioceses and property out of ECUSA and into the Diocese of the Southern Cone. We have hard-line pronouncements coming from African Archbishops, and a meeting of "traditionalist" Bishops (GAFCON) in Jerusalem just before the Lambeth Conference this summer.

Making today's news is the Hereford Diocese being found guilty of sexual-orientation discrimination and facing a pay-out of £47k to the person affected, and an Archbishop who seems more concerned with making overtures to the Muslim faith rather than dealing with the blatant discrimination against women and gay Christians in his own church.

I sometimes wonder what I'm doing in the midst of all this.

And then I remember.

I am a servant of the Servant. That's my role and purpose. And for the present I am called to exercise that ministry in these rural parishes and their people.

Many years ago, as a child, I went to the cinema to see the film "The Fall of the Roman Empire". I was very interested in all things Roman then, and thought how exciting it must have been to live in the age when the known world was beginning to disintegrate.

I now know what it's like.


  1. TC, what's happening on the parish level is quite different from what the media highlight. In our church, we keep on keeping on with God's work, but the media don't tell that story.

    I expect that it's the same in your rural parishes.

    The servant of the Servant is what we're all called to be.

  2. Sorry, you're not TC, are you? You're SR. I'm getting the initials all mixed. Forgive me. I'm an old lady.

  3. Since you called me TC, I'm now going to go to bed humming the theme song from "Top Cat". I loved that cartoon series.

  4. SR, you are saintly, turning all things to good. Sleep well.