Archbishop Michael put it well when he implied that yesterdays Episcopal Ordination of Pat Storey was indeed a very special moment for the Church of Ireland – but also simply the church doing what it does in ministry. Still it was a very special moment and Bishop Mark Strange and I were glad to be there to share it.
And all moments of this kind are special. I always think about the reality of ministry for the person – the wonderful moments which are in every ministry. But also the long slog and the difficult meetings and the being misunderstood and the need to seem to have created movement in an apparently intractable situation within the time frame of a hour. So we said our prayers that the grace of ordination may abound in Bishop Pat
It was appropriate that the launch if Scottish Inter-Faith Week happened on the same day as then.publication of the Scottish Government’s blueprint for Independence. We gathered in Kirkcaldy last night – a triumph of diversity – in the first of over sixty events taking place all over Scotland.
It was a good evening – well attended and members of the SEC were very visible. I was glad to meet the Provost of Fife who told me all about how much he was influenced by the experience of being a choirboy in our church at St Finnians in Lochgelly. I expect that the invitation to him to return there should arrive by the end of the week.
There was a tightly organised programme which, in the way which is charmingly characteristic of these events, began to slide. I’m careful about my evening commitments these days so I dematerialised somewhat before the end.
My experience is that there is a steady growth of confidence and real relationship taking place in inter-faith encounter. We are getting past the ‘nodding and smiling’ stage – important though that is – and beginning to build long term relationships for the future – and for whatever new Scotland may come.
I collected my copy of the Scottish Government’s document in Edinburgh today. It is a mighty tome. I hope I get it read before the Referendum
We had a gathering here in Perth yesterday for the staffs of all of our Diocesan Offices across Scotland. Hardly worth mentioning, you might think. But actually it is both rare and important – and all organised by Sharon my PA.
Our Whole Church Mission and Ministry Policy – sounds like one of those Maoist slogans from the past – affirms the principle that missional leadership is primarily located in the dioceses. Therefore inter-diocesan relationships become as important as the relationship between the Province and the dioceses.
So this was about beginning to explore common approaches to common tasks – what I sometimes call in Piskie-speak ‘an acceptable level of coherence’. Maybe it would be in the interests of all of us to have more common forms, common processes…. At this point I always refer to the standard operating procedures which keep air travel safe – and we could do with some of that.
But of course the real discovery was that many of our diocesan office staff members are relatively recent appointments – some younger women who bring a wealth of experience from other working environments and some more senior people who are offering generous service to the church.
I am a believer in good administration. I try hard and we constantly try to improve, Administration is not Cinderella stuff. It gives stability. It makes sure that we know what we are talking about and what we have decided. It ensures that all voices are heard. It keeps us moving. That’s why St Paul lists it with the other gifts. Thank you
It’s been fiercely cold here these past few days. But I was surprised to find this ice sculpture in the middle of Perth … Amazing that it survives.
I also did a bit of off and on experimenting with the central heating. There is of course a huge and continuing debate on the internet about whether it is more economical to run the heating 24/7 or to allow it to run on a timed sequence. Poppy of course registered a firm vote in favour of 24/7 heat. But the focus of the debate seems to be about the insulation level of the house – and of course about the efficiency of the boiler. I quite like the counter-intuitive idea that the house stays warm and the radiators cool down
Just a bit of family archive. My uncle tells me that Robert Chillingworth’s father was a pawnbroker. Indeed clergy and pawnbrokers run in the family. You can make your own mind up about which branch I belong to.
Not the Red Arrows
But the generic name for the rather mysterious processes which shape the intellectual, spiritual and professional lives of those who minister. It’s a preoccupation for us at present as we reshape TISEC [Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church] into a ‘formation-led’ institution. The danger of course is that formation becomes another of those greedy words – like mission and ministry – which simply gobble up everything around themselves.
Anyway I was invited to say something at the opening of a ‘Practices of Formation’ Conference at the University of St Andrews – a collaboration between the Business School of the University and TISEC. I’d like to have been able to stay for the whole event but sadly … having delivered my thoughts I had to move on
Where was I this day fifty years ago when John F Kennedy was assassinated?
In the bath
I remember it very clearly. I suppose that it must have been one of the first moments at which a world event had real impact – tho’ I do remember the edginess of the Cuban Missile crisis. And if course the response to Kennedy’s death was huge in Ireland because an Irish-American President was part of the coming of age of the Irish Republic.
And Friday evening seemed to be shaped by radio – no TV in our house until the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. And radio meant a succession of programmes like the Navy Lark and the Flying Doctor and Any Questions.
And then if course one wonders how many times a week one had a bath in those far-off sepia-toned days.
Too much information.
Evensong at Kings was an extraordinary experience.
The – I’d forgotten how vast it is – Chapel was warm. The congregation felt like around 200 in number and a significant proportion was under 40. It felt as if their religious and cultural backgrounds were very diverse. Yet they seem to be plugged into this most Anglican form of worship.
Next year, our diocese will focus on ‘Worship which renews and inspires’ from the Nine Marks of Mission. And here is worship – particularly the music – which arises from the semi-darkness and the vast spaces of the chapel. No effort to overdo welcome or accessibility – it isn’t needed in that sense.
As I sat there, I wondered if the experience of many members of the congregation was akin to my feelings at Rowan Williams’ Gifford Lecture last week – that I knew myself to be in the presence of something of sublime quality but wasn’t quite sure what it was,
Lord Williams – formerly Archbishop Rowan Williams, has been delivering the Gifford Lectures this week at New College in the University of Edinburgh. The subject is ‘Making Representqtions: religious faith and the habits of language’. I was there on Tuesday evening to hear ‘Extreme Language: discovery under pressure’
I sit there and wonder. This must be one of the greatest minds of our age. Extraordinarily widely-read in poetry, philosophy, theology, spirituality, the world of literature, he appears to have instant recall of everything. I understand that we are in the area of both the limits of language and the ability of language at and beyond its limits to be the bearer of more than itself. But I am lost! Others are not and are able to frame appropriate and complex question in response. So I recognise that this is a discourse so far beyond or other than what I normally deal with that I would have to learn it.
It was a remarkable and enriching evening – as was the very worthwhile making of connections between church and academy which took place afterwards We could do more of that.
I delight in the interface between the tidy and the untidy. I keep fairly well hidden the fact that my background is one quarter German preferring to play to that part of my make-up which by several generations of background is Irish. And I try to live creatively between order and disorder.
Which is often where ministry is. As last Sunday in our congregation in Crieff. Some no doubt saw the bishop turning up for a Confirmation Service. They will have associated that with a traditional understanding of Confirmation as the ‘gateway’ to Holy Communion. No harm in that – that’s what I was taught. But what was actually happening was that we had a Service of Affirmation for a group of young people who had taken part in a Youth Alpha Course.
Some of the young people saw this as ‘Confirmation’ in the traditional understanding – others wanted to make a visible affirmation of their faith, receive the Laying on of Hands and be anointed. I don’t have any difficulty with that – certainly nothing other than delight in being part of a growing ministry among young people. The only question which I registered was the simultaneous desirability and undesirability of making any differentiation between the two.
I decided in the end that the Holy Spirit is on the side of untidiness and the rest is mine and the church’s problem.