words or bubbles or spirals?

It has been a different couple of days for me.

Yesterday I returned to the head office of YFC in Halesowen. Walking through the door after 2 and a half years was kinda weird but it was great to see old faces and catch up with a few people. I was invited to join the board of YFC a little while back and yesterday at the AGM I was voted on. I am not sure what I can contribute – but I hope I can be helpful from a local centre point of view after being director at Gillingham YFC for around 10 years.

At the board meeting I was excited to hear about the changes in YFC, particularly the greater emphasis on local incarnational ministry along with a vision to work with others to see young people experiencing faith rather than just hearing about it. This is a challenge …. but I am convinced experience is really the only way!

Today I have been at the university all day as part of my ongoing curate training. Today we were looking at legal issues associated with weddings and funerals. This was led by the Archdeacon of Tonbride, Clive Mansell, in a good interactive day which I found quite useful (despite being sceptical before the start of the day!)

This evening we have just met as a small group (called the imagination guild) to plan our next gathering looking at the theme of ‘birthing a church’ and using Acts 2 as our bible text. This was a good creative time after we initially struggled with what we thought the passage and the theme was all about. I was quite excited with the outcome of the guild and we think we will be able to link this into our easter gathering which will happend at sunrise on Easter Morning.

So … and exciting couple of days … tomorrow is back to a normal kind of routine which I am really looking forward to. But … looking back it does make me smile … a lot of the time I feel that I seem to have to try to co-exist in different worlds, or, as someone pointed out today, different bubbles ….I wonder though whether I am slowly starting to see that everything I am involved in is connected in a spiral type way. By that I think i mean that the stuff I do does not immediately seem to fit together, but as I visit the same area over and over again from a slightly different perspective I start to see the connections all over the place.

I’m off to Bruges!

The blog will probably be quite quiet this week as I will be spending most of it at the Monastery of St Andreas in Bruges.

I am on a  residential course with the other curates in my year as we start the third year of our CME (continuing ministry education) course which is concentrating on leadership. We have used a more local place in the lst couple of years but the diocese has found that traveling to Bruges and staying at the monastery there is a lot lot cheaper than going back to the same place – which seems pretty mad!

So … today I am driving to Bruges with 4 other curates in sarah’s car. Please pray for our safety … and I guess that we find the monastery!

I’m looking forward to 4 days in Bruges!

pioneer training

Jonny has blogged about the CMS Pioneer Ministry Training.

This looks really excellent and as I was reading it I found myself wishing this has been around a few years ago when I started training or OPM.

I particularly welcome the return to what it always should have been, as outlined in the Mission Shaped Church report:

the idea (as strongly recommended by the c of e in mission shaped church but seemingly ignored by lots of bishops and training officers up and down the country) is that training should be on the job for pioneers and not residential. and that the training will be alongside what they are pioneering.’

It is also going to be assessed by portfolio – something I have marginally achieved in my IME training for this year (but it is still to be written, in my case as an academic essay).

As I say above, this is excellent and if you are an ordinand about to start you should really be having big discussions with your bishop about this … now where is that tardis so I can go back in time?!

Seattle time!

The case is packed (even weighed and if the spring balance is accurate it is below weight), I’m checked in, I’ve even printed my boarding pass and, all being well, I should take off from Heathrow tomorrow at 2.20pm on a Britsh Airways flight to Seattle.

If you have missed this – I am incredibly excited to be on a 3 week placement with Church Of The Apostles and looking forward to learning lots from the community of people there as well as sharing a little bit about what I do in Rochester and pioneer ministry / fresh expressions. This is being viewed, quite rightly, as part of my training!

I will land tomorrow just after 4pm local time and will be met at the airport and attend vespers at 6.00pm in St Paul’s chapel … an excellent way to start my time with COTA.

I feel a sense of excitement as well as nervousness. I can’t believe it is over 10 years since I have properly traveled. I also feel a sense of loss … planning a trip away is exciting and I’m really pleased to be going, but I know I will miss my family here – please, when you remember to pray for me on my travels, also remember to pray for Sarah, Tom, Beth and Joe. I think it’s tough on them.

Now seems a good time to thank all of you who have made this possible – you know who you are. It’s a great opportunity and everyone tells me how much I will love it … and I’m sure they are right!

I hope to blog here about my experiences ….so watch this space!

Training Day

I attended KCME today, which is our ongoing training ‘post ordination’. I don’t know of it is just me, but I do seem to find this extracting myself from mission to consider, in today’s case the role of the deacon, to be quite frustrating.

It is important to continue to learn, and not just because the role of ‘curate’ is a training role – but I do wish that the training takes account of what we already know and have experienced. It seems we start again at base level and ‘forget’ that we have all been on at least 3 years part time training or 2 years full time training at Bible college. Maybe SEITE was different to others, but I am frustrated because I do not think I learned anything different today from the a whole weekends training on the deaconate and priesthood in May.

It was good, however, to meet up with my colleague curates and hear stories of what God is doing in each others lives and through each others ministries and then chatting over the issues raised. It is both amazing and encouraging to hear what each of us is experiencing and how we are dealing with certain issues. It was also useful to hear other peoples input into situations and point out things that those incvolved had not noticed or realised. This, however, was squeezed into 40 minutes and I came away thinking today that we had got the timings all wrong – 40 minutes on the deaconate and 2 hours on stories from our situations may have been more useful.
(image link: http://cache1.asset-cache.net/xc/83373880.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=47E4064542B2F7236DE78A5E76F5871C)

Biblical? or to be right?

I have returned from my first CME residential and have quite mixed feelings about what happens at such events.

Meeting people and chatting ‘after hours’ are always the highlights for me at things like these. A particular highlight was visiting the Little Gem with some Lithuanian priests that had joined us for the conference. This was their first time in the UK and they were keen to see an English pub and drink English beer. As they sat in the Gem and learned that they were sitting in a place that had been a pub since the 1200’s they were amazed. It was great to be able to share the experience.

We had some top teachers – professors Richard Burridge and Ben Quash from Kings College. TBH Quash’s lecture was way above my head and I got totally lost, whereas Burridge’s stuff was quite fascinating. He argued convincingly that the crisis in the Anglican church was not actually about sexuality, but rather a reluctance to discuss around the table the ‘biblical viewpoint’. He used slavery and apartheid as illustrations where both were performed under the ‘biblical’ justification and yet we know they got it drastically wrong.

A taster of the lecture:

So this debate rages between traditional groups and those who want to be inclusive. The former assume that they are ‘biblical’, while the latter sometimes also claim this. This is why tonight’s lecture is entitled ‘Being Biblical?’ – with a question mark – in an attempt to answer the question. The problem with such debates is that it is often hard to hear each other. All sides have a position, with a pressure group, with websites and mailing lists, and people of similar views meet to plan strategy, motions for Synod, speakers to invite and so forth. There is little opportunity for differing views to come together – and even less for a meeting of minds in the midst of tough debate, dare one even say, in the heat of battle? Yet all of these are Christians, and we are talking about how we read the Bible, how we understand and receive God’s revelation and how we try to interpret God’s will for his church and the world. There has to be a better way to seek the divine intention.

you can read more here.

It’s an interesting read, and I think reminds us that to use the ‘biblical’ argument needs to be done so with care, but also and more importantly done in dialogue with those who think the ‘biblical’ thing seems to contrast with your view. If we only talk to those we agree with its very easy to be ‘biblical’ and convince ourselves we are right … the history of slavery and apartheid show us that only too clearly.

My personal opinion is that, actually and in all honesty, our desire to be ‘correct’ has over-ridden our desire to be ‘biblical’. To meet with others of an opposing view gives rise to the possibility that my view may change. If I change my view that means I was wrong. To admit that wrong can sometimes be painful and embarrassing. To asvoid that pain we refuse to meet with certain people, preferring instead to build our own camps to discuss, not biblical truth, but how we can win the argument.

To make real progress we need to talk.


I will be leaving soon to attend the residential for KCME which is the Canterbury and Rochester Dioceses ongoing training program for curates – it used to be called POTTY training (post ordination training).

For the next few days I will be at Aylesford Priory which I know well from good use while at SEITE. It will be odd being there without everyone else I trained with, but good to know a few will be there.

For me … sadly, I feel this residential comes at the wrong time. I’m four weeks into a new ministry, I’m starting to make very tentative connections with people and I want to be ‘out there’ continuing those connections rather than inside for 3 days of training.

This is, however, good for me as it is a good excuse of reminding me that it will be God, and God alone, who fosters these connections and develops them if they are to develop. Me being away for a few days does nothing to change that – in fact, to think it does shows that I may have developed a little bit of a feeling of being important in this process which I need to be rid of.

No blogging though for the next few days as I know from experience that the Friar’s don’t have wireless 😦