You may have noticed that I haven’t been visible here for a little while. Sometimes stuff crowds the diary and makes me lose the rhythm. Four days of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion in London – mainly focused on the appointment of a new Secretary General – immediately followed by a trip to Ireland to conduct the wedding of a friend’s daughter – left me struggling to cope with the everyday
But in the midst of trivial round and common task there were some really significant moments of hope. One was a my meeting with the Vestries of our Central Fife Group in Glenrothes in Fife.
Two and a half years ago, these three congregations received Revd Thomas Brauer as Priest in Charge after a period of three years in which it was impossible to find a priest to go there in ministry. At that point, there was very little hope. These are challenging places for our church – post-industrial Fife – but it is very important that we sustain a presence here.
My visit last week arose because Thomas is about to become our Diocesan Missioner – and yet news of his departure didn’t plunge them into renewed despair. The reason is to do with a pattern of ministry which is becoming common across our church.
We don’t endlessly extend groupings of congregations – our culture is too independent for that. Instead we attempt to establish or recognise some ministry in each of the congregations and then to link them together – partly through the ministry of a priest who exercise oversight, encourages, trains and supports. So each of the congregations – in Lochgelly. Leven and Glenrothes – has a person around whom ministry can grow. That includes a stipendiary priest, a licensed Lay Reader, one or two retired clergy and a Lay Reader in training,
I ask myself how this differs from the patterns of Local Collaborative Ministry which were being promoted when I came to Scotland ten years ago. Well it’s probably more opportunistic than doctrinaire. We make the most of the talents and skills which are available but don’t have a fixed pattern. We have a clear understanding of the complementary of ministries of clergy and laity – not seeming to promote one at the expense of the other.
I went back up the M90 in foul weather but with a metaphorical spring in my step.