Conference-shy

Always regret signing up to go to Conferences. Never more so than today when I have to leave this rural idyll at Blogstead Episcopi to go to a Conference in Carlisle. The subject is Stewardship – which is softly, softly, church-speak for money. I’m going because it is the best way of getting up to speed on today’s resources and getting the network contacts that I need. What this is really about is encouraging people to see financial commitment as just one expression of their spiritual commitment. I’m a veteran of many programmes like this in parish life. Mostly they were very encouraging. But they also provided an opportunity for anybody who wanted to complain about anything – the church heating/the Rector losing his hair/hymns sung too fast/hymns sung too slow/failure of the parish to defend the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, etc – to have a go. As if one hadn’t heard it all zillions of times before. Here things are different. What needs to be nudged here, I think, is the ‘fund-raising’ mindset – for there is a world of difference between fundraising and giving. Time to stop – because I can already hear people preparing to get their retaliation in early ‘Of course, this new bishop is only interested in money’ Actually he is interested in sitting under a panama hat in his back garden on a sunny day and not going to Carlisle

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