Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Silver Jubilee

I'm not celebrating it in any way, but Sunday 30th June 1985 was the day I was ordained a priest by the Rt. Rev. John Neale, Bishop of Ramsbury, at St John the Baptist parish church, Broadstone, Dorset. I presided at my first Eucharist the next day.

Left to right: The Bishop of Ramsbury, my brother Peter, my mother, father and me.

(I still have that stole and use it for weddings, but I have much less hair!)

Monday, 28 June 2010


picture from the BBC

Have just watched the first episode of the new BBC comedy series "Rev" about the Rev Adam Smallbone - a Church of England vicar, newly arrived at East London's inner-city parish of St. Saviour's from a sleepy rural parish in Suffolk!

Not a bad portrayal of the actual problems clergy face, and for once a sympathetic script which implies that those who wrote it have actually investigated parish life. The human side of the vicar is allowed to come through, and the parishioners are also frighteningly accurate.

Best bits in this episode?

When the Rev Smallbone removes his clerical collar and tells the builders who have been taunting him to "f*** off!"

Seeing him in the pub arranging the wedding of the licencees.

Refusing to talk attendance numbers with the Archdeacon.

And above all this, having a storyline that rings true for virtually all CofE clergy - how to deal with the parents who turn up to worship some weeks before the church school admissions date, and then disappear again afterwards.

A promising start.

Signs of summer

A cool lunch ...

and the first of many ...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Changing Attitudes?

Yes - I know it's been quiet here in the slumbering flatlands, but contrarywise, I've been busy. There was the Clergy Conference, which I attended two days out of three - not bad for me: getting next month's Benefice magazine back from the printers and screaming as I realised I had dated it August 2010 instead of July 2010, and spending an hour printing out labels, cutting them up and sticking them to the covers: then there was the next batch of marmalade to make for the monthly Coffee Morning: sermons: co-ordinating arrangements for a couple of large funerals - not that I officiated (the families didn't want me!) but the grave spaces had to be sorted: and all the general plethora of administration when there are 11 parishes to ... er ... what exactly? Govern? Oversee? Pastor? Will have to think about that one.

And over and above all this nitty gritty of parochial life rumbles the wider turmoil of "mitregate", the joint attempt by our Archbishops to influence the General Synod's debate over female episcopate, and the continuing exclusion of the LGBT faithful from the life of our church.

But people are beginning to stick their heads above the parapet and shout "This will not do!"

I am a member of "Changing Attitude", the group that lobbies to literally "do what it says on the tin" and change the current prejudice against LGBT Christians. The Director of Changing Attitude UK is the Rev. Colin Coward. On June 18th he posted the following on the Changing Attitude blog.

My partner and I are planning to contract our Civil Partnership in October (dependent on approval from the Home Office). Our focus will not be the legal ceremony in the registry office but a service of holy communion in church using material from Jim Cotter’s "The Service of my Love". We met our Rector this week to talk about planning the service. He is totally positive about our desire to commit ourselves to each other in church in the presence of God and our friends.

Similar services have been taking place in St Luke’s Charlton in South London for over 15 years with the full approval of the PCC. Other services have taken place up and down the country in village halls, marquees, secular venues – and in churches. Guests at Christian ceremonies in secular venues fail to understand why they can’t be held in church. Because church rules forbid it is not a satisfactory answer for the couple’s family and friends.

A huge gulf is opening in this country between the attitude of the general population to gay partnerships and the official position of the Church of England. The church is driven by a conservative minority demanding that it conforms to Issues in Human Sexuality, Lambeth 1.10, the House of Bishops Statement and the Windsor Report (conformity being selective).

The gulf is not simply an inability to accept C of E teaching about the place of LGBT people in the church but about people’s spiritual experience and their vision of God.

The post has a lot more to it, and the rest can be read here.

In our small rural churches this really hasn't been an active issue. We haven't had partnered same-sex couples coming and asking for services of blessing or whatever. But what happens if we do? When we do? We cannot stay isolated in our sleepy parochialism for ever. And maybe the time is coming when voices need to be raised, one way or the other, and to see if we, in our own quiet way, can live with the differences that the Anglican Communion as a whole seems unable to do.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I have seen the future, and it's dark out there.

On 11th May 2009 the government unveiled plans for every home in Britain to be equipped with smart meters by the end of 2020. These meters allow suppliers to remotely record customers' gas and electricity use, and let consumers see how much energy they are using. Some 26 million electricity and 22 million gas meters will need to be fitted at a cost of £7bn. Smart meters end the need to dispatch meter readers, meaning huge savings for energy firms who hope bills will fall. It is also claimed that smart meters will mean an end to estimated bills and call centre staff who deal with related complaints.

From "The Connexion", France's English-language newspaper:

A TRIAL into a new type of electricity meter that will be compulsory in most homes within ten years has hit a problem - 99.9% of them do not work. Out of the 19,000 meters installed in Tours on a trial basis, only eight of them work properly, according to "Le Parisien". The others functioned like an ordinary meter and did not send any data back to the supplier. EDF said in a statement: "Not all the meters are sending data back because we have not yet activated all of the functions. We will carry out some more tests." The cost of installing the meters across France is estimated at up to €9bn - and consumers will foot the bill, with the €230 cost of each individual meter broken down into small installments on energy bills between now and 2020.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

After the rain of today ...

... a beautiful evening and a loud chorus of birdsong from the trees around the garden. I sat out and listened to it for half an hour. I can understand why Constable loved to paint these East Anglian skies.

"Reign of Fire"

This has to be one of the best dragon movies .... (2002)

Smaug revealed

Like this?

Monday, 7 June 2010

Smaug (let the reader of "The Hobbit" understand)

Strange clouds over the village church this evening ... does anyone else see a dragon heading down towards the tower? Or is it just because I've been watching "Van Helsing"?

This is not the church that called me into ministry

Posted on Episcopal Cafe amongst other sites and blogs ....

From the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion:

Most of you will have read the recent letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Anglican Communion on the subject of Pentecost. Part of that letter addresses the current and ongoing tensions in the Anglican Communion – these tensions cluster around the three moratoria referred to in the Windsor Report.

It was hoped to have held the gracious restraint requested on many occasions by the Instruments of Communion until the Covenant had been considered in-depth by all of the provinces. The Covenant outlines a process whereby major issues before the Communion which affect its common life can be considered properly and appropriately within the community of faith. However, the recent Episcopal election in Los Angeles has created a situation where the Archbishop has been forced to act before the Covenant has been considered by most provinces.

So the Archbishop of Canterbury has made the following proposals in his Pentecost Letter which spell out the consequences of this action:

“I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members”.

Last Thursday I sent letters to members of the Inter Anglican ecumenical dialogues who are from the Episcopal Church informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued. In doing so I want to emphasise again as I did in those letters the exceptional service of each and every person to that important work and to acknowledge without exception the enormous contribution each person has made.

I have also written to the person from the Episcopal Church who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing that person’s membership and inviting her to serve as a Consultant to that body.

I have written to the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to ask whether its General Synod or House of Bishops has formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing.

At the same time I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.

These are the actions which flow immediately from the Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter.

Looking forward, there are two questions in this area which I would like to see addressed: One is the relationship between the actions of a bishop or of a diocese and the responsibilities of a province for those actions – this issue is referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report para 48.

Secondly, to ask the question of whether maintaining within the fellowship of one’s Provincial House of Bishops, a bishop who is exercising episcopal ministry in another province without the expressed permission of that province or the local bishop, constitutes an intervention and is therefore a breach of the third moratorium.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon.

How does the phrase "I am therefore proposing ..." in the Archbishop's letter get translated into action by Kenneth Kearon. Where the hell does he get the authority to take such a move? He is Secretary General of a federation of churches that are simply bound together by the "three-legged stool" of tradition, scripture and reason. He is not the overseer of a single entity that has a single set of rules, interpretations and practices.

The Church of England into which God called me to exercise my ministry has all but disappeared. By stealth it is being transformed into a body governed by legalism and presided over by someone who seems to want to become an Anglican Pope. Our present Archbishop is as far removed from the gentle days of Ramsey or the Evangelical fervour of Coggan as chalk is from cheese. It seems that Williams is willing to sacrifice his own declared principles of inclusivity for the nebulous goal of holding together the Anglican Communion. The result is that far from creating unity, this disinvitation to members "offending" against the advisory Windsor Report simply hastens the dissolution of the Communion. How can one have dialogue with those of a differing viewpoint if you refuse to sit down and speak with them?