Having read the comments on my last effort, I’m pondering the points at which I think I can act authoritatively. I certainly do so to try and create a competently-ordered diocese and one in which people can have a chance of knowing [in the best sense] their place and how they can contribute. I act to protect, to make safe, to set boundaries and to make room for [possibly divergent] views. I act in prophetic challenge ..

On the reconfiguring, I assume that we are heading into a very mixed economy indeed and that one of the major bits of that mixture is that some situations will have a stipendiary priest ‘in the mix’ and others will not. If I have myself experienced reconfiguring, it was mainly at the hands of George Lovell and Catherine Widdicombe of the Avec Movement. They did a huge amount of work – partly about the role of the churches in partnership with others in community development. They also developed understandings of the concept of non-directive leadership. As I understood it, this placed the priest [or other community leader] in the position of ‘worker’ with the group – placing faith, spirituality, intellect, skills, knowledge and experience at the disposal of the group to enable the group to arrive at the ‘best’ outcomes and decisions. It seems to me that they discovered one of the ways of describing the balance which we are searching for here – recognising the authority of the group/community but seeing the authority of the priest as being at the service of the group and making a distinct contribution to its life.

Or have I missed the point?


  1. Ah – rumbled again. Or as one of my earlier correspondents suggested, ‘Iron fist in iron glove’

  2. Maybe you need a diplomatic Bishop’s chaplain. He could always be there to drive you home after future Burns’ nights!

  3. Now that’s an interesting thought! Practical too in a Pythonesque sort of way. If one is the dead waiting to be raised, it’s better to have it on the spot than have to wait for a letter from some minion. But when I did a course on conflict management [oxymoron if ever there was one] they suggested that one of the reasons why conflict in churches becomes so deeply embedded so quickly [as in ‘I’ll just ring the Bishop and tell him what I think of him/it] is because the chain of command is unhelpfully short. No chance to diffuse, prevaricate, hide in the impenetrable thickets of bureaucracy.

  4. The great strength of the Christian Faith is that at its best its chain of command is mercifully short!

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