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.

Aylesford

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 😦

the next step

The final weekend has been completed.
The initial training is over.
Currently I feel in a bit of a void s I wait now until Sept. 6th to be ordained.
I have this sense of wanting to start and get on with things.

It’s been an interesting journey, with wonderful people.
We’ve travelled through pain and flipping hard work together.
We’ve also laughed a lot together (and drank a fair bit together as well!)

We’ve all said a lot – and there is nothing else to say other than ‘thanks’.

Tomorrow night, which will now not be a SEITE night anymore will be quite strange.

Photos of the weekend can be found here for those of you interested.

As for now – we look ahead with a mix of excitement and apprehension as we look to start the next stage of the journey with God.

Touching the Shadow?


I had my SEITE annual review today.

Before I met with my personal tutor I had to complete quite a hefty self assessment form asking questions about my formation, my theological training, my spiritual life and so on and so on. This time I also needed to complete what the Church of England calls ‘Appendix B’ which those with the power use to help in making decisions about where the curacy is to be held.

I had difficulty completing this as I have to choose what sort of parish I wish to be based in, whether it is charismatic, catholic, conservative, liberal etc etc. I had difficulty mainly because really I stand in that centre ground and am far more interested in the churches willingness to try anything regarding fresh expressions and allow good experimentation with strong oversight and accountability than I am about where it sits on the theological spectrum.

Anyway, I guess I’ll get a chance to chat about this with the bishop in a few weeks time.

In the meantime – it looks like the acting is going well as the college seem happy and look like they are going to recommend I continue training! mwah ha ha – only another year of fooling them to go!

But in seriousness, the implications of appendix B hit me today as all this is now starting to take on a reality of fresh significance as with not a little apprehension I dare to try and touch the shadow of God and hear from him something of what may be lying in wait for me.

Guess who’s back!

Well the week flew by.
I always love staff conference as it is a great chance to catch up with friends and see how they are doing and hear their exciting stories.
2 exciting stories that come to mind:
a young lad on crutches becoming a Christian in school, being healed, and walking home the same day with his crutches under his arm …. can you imagine the conversation when he got home??!! ‘Mum … where shall I put these?’
a young lady being told she will become director of her local centre, and then a year later being appointed!

As with most conferences the chats over coffee and in the evenings over beer were far more valuable than the sessions themselves. It was a real privilege to be involved in these conversations.

Highlights:
beers with my friends
Flossie having a word for me one evening – apparently I am a similar to Alexander Whyte!
chatting with local staff
experiencing worship with Andy Flan on guitar, Lee on the decks and our star rapper – an awesome fresh mix
the YFC rap fest – you had to be there!
praying for the bump of Abs (and Mal’s I suppose!)
food

Low lights
5 hours in the car … twice (although the company was cool)
saying goodbye to Ed, Andy and Steve – 3 good friends going at the same time!

the goods heavily outweigh the bads – so it must have been a great week!

Thanks for your prayers … now onto reality again …

Bodelwyddan Castle

I am off to North Wales to stay in a castle for a week!
I’m off to Bodelwyddan Castle.
I always look forward to the annual Staff Conference of YFC, its a great opportunity for some teaching and a real chance to spend quality time with other members of staff.
The list of people I must meet with is massive, but I’m looking forward to the endless chats around mission and stuff. It’s always great fun, after the initial ‘stress’ of wondering who I will be sharing a room with for the week.
Because Warner Hotels usually cater for ‘the older clientele’, there is no wifi/internet access so I have a blog rest for the week.
I drive up tomorrow morning, taking Lucy and Daniel from Gillingham YFC, and back on Friday – so please pray for safe journies both ways!