just get on with it!

new construction 2I had a great day on Tuesday doing something a little different by hopping up to London Diocese. Part of my role on the MACE team in Rochester Diocese is to help people develop Fresh Expressions of church and look at how we can birth/grow/plant church in areas of new housing.

Today I met with Dr Ian Sesnan who is the Strategic Development Manager for London Diocese along with Rev Simon Rea who is the pioneering minister at St Peters, Edgeware. Both of these great men are doing amazing things and I felt that the 2 hours with them was easily equivalent to 2 weeks of research and phonecalls. They validated stuff I have been thinking and doing for some time … such as long term incarnational ministry so that we learn the ‘language’ of the area …. but I also learnt some tips for communicating and working alongside developers.

One thing I was reminded of was that the church community has a ‘right’ to be in a place and a right to speak on behalf of those she has been serving. One thing that hit me our meeting is not that there is just a need to provide community spaces in areas of new development, but that there is also a requirement to ensure the sustainability of that community space. Because, essentially, the church will never leave and not motivated by money … the church can more or less guarantee the sustainability of this space which is desperately needed.

As a bonus Ian and Simon wanted to hear about our vision for Gillingham High Street, and they were able to offer some great insights and suggestions for a way forward. One inspired comment from Ian was something like ‘taking an interim space and presence as a first step’. Sometimes maybe I have been guilty of waiting for too many boxes to be ticked rather than simply getting a space and getting on with it!

This was a great day … it got both my thinking brain and visionary brain working again …. thanks Ian and Simon for your time … much appreciated! (Now I just need to go and write up all this enthusiasm for the diocese!)

more on women bishops

Maggi points to some petitions supporting women bishops. You can sign these if you, like me, want to see this happen as soon as possible, and as equal bishops with the other bishops that already hold office – rather than the ridiculous idea thought up by someone who though it acceptable to have women bishops on a different (lesser!!) level than men bishops. A bishop is a bishop, male or female, is equal in the sight of God and as soon as people get to grips with that then the better for us all!

Anyway to sign go click a link below depending on who you are:
you will sign something like: ‘we ….support having women as bishops on the same basis as men are bishops and we urge the Revision Committee to prepare the draft legislation with a code of practice, as requested by General Synod in July 2008, in time for General Synod in February 2010.’

For women clergy sign here

For men clergy sign here

For the laity (male or female!!!) sign here

I guess this is a good place as ny to answer those people who have shown surprise that I have not commented on this offer from the Roman Catholic church. I guess I have not commented because, to be frank, I’m not really that interested. If people wish to leave a church that embraces diversity and welcomes discussion and join one where one person is allowed to make all decisions unchallenged then so be it.

The reason I mention it here is because it is my honest hope that this will enable General Synod to go back to its original decision which agreed women bishops without alternative arrangements. The pope has made this offer to help out those who oppose the move … so I don’t wish to be insensitive but can we please move on now to what the overwhelming majority of Synod voted on after due though, discussion and prayer.

I look forward to our first woman bishop … be great of it was in Rochester!!! Shame it won’t be 😦

Awesome day

The Pilgrimage in Coventry was awesome – there is no other way to describe it and big thanks need to go to all the organisers.

It was good catching up with friends as ever but being part of what was happening itself was sheer privilege. The workhops and stuff were secondary for me at this event – the worship was far more central to the day than anything I have ever before experienced at a conference. Again, I have to use the word awesome, and I can’t think when I have ever used that term to describe worship.

It was awesome because it was powerful, using the ancient and reframing it in a way that seemed to make it more accessible for all present. There is a good run down of the day at Mr Gnome’s Blog which is great.

Some highlights (and repeats from Mr Gnome) for me:
– starting the day in front of the font prostrate on the floor led by the Archbishop – over 400 people lying prostrate on the floor of Coventry Cathedral – I don’t know what it looked like but it felt an incredibly powerful way to remind myself of who I am and recognise where I am in relation to God.
– seeing the Archbishop in a Britney/Madonna style head mic presiding at the Eucharist with great visuals on screens and ambient tracks
– observing a group of old nuns who had come to learn, contribute and worship God. Their willingness and openness was beautiful
– The Archbishops address which can be read in full here but I was particularly encouraged by this closing comment:

we need, not just better communication strategies, more lively language or more up to the minute activities, important as these are, but a practice that anchors us in the fleshliness of the Word who became human, in the story of the time he took and takes to bring us home to his Father, in the awareness of our need for each other – and so anchors us in Baptism and Eucharist, where Scripture truly becomes contemporary happening.

– the closing liturgy was amazingly powerful and you could not help but leave the cathedral excited and energised about the possibilities and potential ahead of us. This was a totally new experience for me in more ways than one …

I did have one regret – I decided to go to the day in jeans and t-shirt, leaving the clerical shirt and collar at home. This would have been ok, but two deacons were wanted for the closing liturgy and I was roped in. The vergers were great at finding me an alb … but I can’t help but remember the look of concern on Rowans face as I robed next to him, me in my blue jeans and howies t-shirt! He was, as ever, very gracious and encouraging. A funny story for the grand children! Story aside, being part of something so powerful was a very special time. I still can’t help but see the irony of all this – I’m a pioneer who started training saying I won’t robe, I won’t do this and that – and here I am processing in with the Archbishop and Bishop Steven – God does seem to have an amazing sense of humour!

GAFCON primate never saw Covenant response

I find this intersting … and also feel that we have been here before not so long ago with people believing they have excluisve rights to the truth …

Pat Ashworth interviewed Bishop Greg Venables.

Her report at the Church Times blog is headlined Greg Venables had not seen or agreed the GAFCON Covenant response:

HE WAS diplomatic about it, but it was clearly vexing to the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, that he had neither seen nor agreed the published response to the St Andrew’s draft Covenant , issued by GAFCON on Friday in his name and those of the Primates of Nigeria, West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. None of the other six is present at the conference…

you can read more at Thinking Anglicans.

harvest placement

I’ve mentioned before that this term I am not attending lectures and instead I am on placement at Harvest in Margate. I’e just returned from my latest evening visit to Harvest where I had a meal with Maggie, Harold and Lizzie (which was very kind of them) before visiting the cell conveniently held in the house next door.

Harvest calls itself a new Anglican church and is 10 years old this year. Harvest is an Anglican cell church plant. There is central meeting on a Sunday held in one of the university buildings but the main body of the church meets in cells throughout the week.

This is an interesting placement. Harvest seems to mean many things to many different people. I am trying to discover what evangelism looks like in this setting as well as what the ‘theology of the holy spirit’ is for people of Harvest. There does not seem to be one uniform answer to either of these questions.

I am not sure what I think of Harvest yet. It is difficult to get a feel for something that is diverse both theologically and geographically. Visiting Harvest means going to Margate all day on Sunday to meet people or visit cells – so this is going to be quite a slow process. I am aware that it is not my style of church as I do not feel entirely comfortable here and have become aware that I am struggling with the lack of symbolism in the life of Harvest (this struggle has come as a a bit of a surprise to me). What Harvest do is excellent for the people who are part of Harvest, but it is not me.

There are exciting things to see here though. Tonight people were engaging with the bible in a real way, not allowing themselves to be content with pat easy answers that I have experienced in my past dabbling into cells or home groups.. Most impressive for me, though, is the ability to belong to Harvest without the need to all believe the same. There is a very inclusive outlook here which brings questions of how this is sustained and held in tension as inevitably people will be disagreeing with each other on some key issues.

I’m looking forard to hearing more and questioning more over these next few weeks.

calling….

The letionary today remembers St Thomas Aquinas, who was a pretty cool bloke setting a great example to commitment to vocation – despite being locked up by his parents and various tricks played such as having a ‘temptress’ thrown into his cell to attempt to cause him to deny his calling. It makes fascinating reading!

This story today has challenged me in my commitment to my calling.

In the Anglican church one of the canticles that could be read this morning was A Song of the Word for the Lord which is based on Isaiah 55, which has always been a special chapter in the Bible for me and one that I needed reminding of in my current mind state. It speaks of God’s thoughts being different and not necessarily making a lot of sense at the the time. But more than this, Is. 55 states clearly that God’s thoughts are higher – they may not make a lot of sense but they are higher,or purer and sounder, than my thoughts could ever be.

A key verse is:

Return to the Lord who will have mercy
to our God who will richly pardon.

Today we have an opportunity to let people know that they can return to a God who has mercy and accepts (which I believe is what I am called to do) – how come too often we are able to portray a God who judges and rejects?

Anglican Bloggers

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

I visit Dave’s Blog regularly and decided to join the Anglican Bloggers Facebook group.
No real reason for this other than to see what other Anglicans are out there, what people are saying and not saying and because I classify myself as such (an Anglican and a blogger), in a very broad sense of course!