Our brief sojourn to the borders of Wales didn’t last long – just over 18 months in fact. We’ve returned to London and we’re very excited about it.
Hereford has been a wonderful place for us as a family. We were close to our clan in Wales, and I was close enough that I was able to spend a lot of time with my Grandmother in the last few months of her life. A huge gift for all of us – but especially for Edmund for whom Grandma Jean is still a very real presence.
But onto pastures new! I am now the Assistant Curate at St. Mary-The-Virgin in Kenton. I was licensed by the Bishop of Fulham on Sunday 3rd March and am now firmly ensconced. A great gang from Hereford came all the way to London (a four hour journey each way!) to wish us well. We were touched by the many kind words from Hereford as we left and the flurry of cards and gifts. We shall miss them a great deal.
We have been made to feel so welcome at St. Mary’s. A church that feels like a great big family. Food, fun, sacrament, prayer – a place that seems to represent the very best of what it means to live a Christian life.
We are hugely grateful for the loving kindness shown to us by Father Edward Lewis – my new Training Incumbent. A man from whom I have a huge amount to learn from over the next couple of years.
And so onwards… pray for us and for the good people of St. Mary’s, Kenton.
We took time to discuss what we did at our Harvest Festival last year (asking the congregation to provide food for the refugees in Calais), what we have planned this year (no spoilers), the homeless and vulnerable of Hereford and A Vicar’s Live Live on September 8th.
You can use the media player below to listen to the interview, or listen to the whole show via the BBC’s iPlayer.
(preached at St. Mary’s, Wolverton, Stratford. 12/08/2018)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Good morning everyone and thank you for inviting me to come and preach this morning. It’s a real treat to come and visit Richard and his family – in which of course I include you, we are all one family and I always feel that in coming to a church I’ve not been to before – in coming amongst a new congregation I am rediscovering a branch of my family that I’ve always known, but not yet go to know. We are – one bread, one body.
Each week millions of Christians around the world come to church to seek nourishment. We pretty much all do it in different ways, but we are united by the sacraments of baptism and of the eucharist. Today, Jesus tells us quite explicitly that He is the bread of life. But what does that mean to us in our journey towards Him and towards a deeper relationship with Him?
Let’s start with that word – nourishment. It’s used a lot in Christian circles. We seek nourishment from the scriptures, we seek nourishment from the eucharist, we seek nourishment from prayer – we seek nourishment in the biscuits after the service, from our bring-and-share meals at festivals and Holy Days – we seek to nourish others – feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the broken. Continue reading
I love this reading. It’s one I think most people know – even those who have never come to church. It contains two of Jesus’ miracles – walking on water and somehow managing to feed 5000 people. We often dismiss it as a children’s story – somehow trying to tell us something, we’re not quite sure what… but certainly that there wasn’t suddenly – magically enough food to feed 5000 people when moments before there were just five loaves and two fish.
We think like this because this is what our lives have taught us. I often think of Jesus and the Disciples as a sort of PCC – because that’s what I know! I can see them sat around a rock in the middle of a field with an impending crisis.
This week sees me quoted in an article in Church Times “The Generation Game“. The article talks through some research from the US where there is a feeling that a war is brewing between millennials and the boomers within the Episcopal Church.
Dr Hannah Matis, Assistant Professor of Church History at Virginia Theological Seminary, described it in an article for the magazine The Living Church as “two armed camps: those 65 and older and those 35 and younger, facing off with mutual incomprehension and occasional hostility, the divide manifesting itself in a thousand micro-aggressions in Sunday-morning coffee hours across the country.”
It’s an interesting article that debunks a lot of what Dr Matis says with experience from across the Church of England. I talk briefly within the article about finding our Training Incumbents to be on fine form – but that we do have a cultural gap with those who were trained for a different mission field. That’s not to denigrate the fine work that has gone on in that mission field but rather to accept that millennials interact with faith in a different way and need different ways of engaging with us. I point out the fine work Priests of previous generations have carried out (and that we should be hugely grateful for) but call out a growing sense amongst my age group (and younger) that perhaps some of the reforms of the 60s & 70s threw the baby out with the bath water and that we want to explore a deeper sense of orthodoxy. I point out that this will obviously be difficult for those who fought for those reforms.
Interestingly this article – in an industry newspaper – has garnered significantly more reaction from people in the Church than my recent comments in The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4 – which rather underlines my concern that we may be a little inward focused.
I have no words to suitably describe the weekend of the 30th June and 1st July 2018. I was ordained Priest at the Cathedral in Hereford by The Right Reverend Richard Frith, Bishop of Hereford. I was surrounded by family and friends at both my ordination and my First Mass. I have been blessed to have been supported by so many people on this long journey.
As Winston Churchill would have it – this is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, but this may just be the end of the beginning. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey and I look forward to many years of shared adventures with you all.
As always with John it was a relaxed and I hope informative interview over the hour of his show – I’ve clipped up the salient parts which amount to about 15 minutes of conversation. I hope you enjoy it and as ever – any questions, leave a comment or get in touch.
It’s been a busy old week. As ever at this time of year the now annual debate about the style of ordination photographs got raging on Twitter. My contribution to that was pretty limited – a reply to a friend (see below) which was then picked up by the Guardian. They asked for a quick interview and what I tried to convey was that the annual ‘jumping’ or set up photographs (see dabbers from Leicester) simply fail to communicate the depth of joy and seriousness of what has just happened. This is no reflection on those in the photographs (let’s not forget my own ‘jump for joy’ caption competition moment in Church Times a couple of years ago) but rather a criticism of the people putting the photographs together – forcing in some cases – people to engage in a set-up and rather forced ‘joyful’ photo in an attempt to grab the front page of the Church Times.
The issue is not one of taste, but of the discomfort I feel at enforced fun – and the thing is – that comes across in the photographs themselves. The second point is that they’re just so creatively dull. They’re as expected as the shot of the beautiful blonde school girl opening her A-Level results and make me groan through sheer lack of creativity. What I did find interesting is that the Church Times last year published a wonderful picture of a father throwing his son(?) into the air – a moment of sheer joy beautifully captured – it was different and really did communicate the deep sense of joy. On their website they decided to lead with an image of the Hereford Deacon Ordinations – a formal photo – but taken by a professional photographer that had stunning colour and depth and leap from the page.
Yes, call my grumpy. Fair enough. But think on this… when was the last time a Priest was in the Guardian (front page) talking about Ordination and the wonder, splendour and honour of that call? When was the last time a Priest was on BBC Radio 4 PM talking about Ordinations and the joy of being called by God? I mean no offence to anyone, but come on people, we’re more creative than jumping in front of the cathedral.
BBC Radio 4 PM Interview
What I found interesting about the photographs from last year was that whilst the Church Times had a wonderful joyful face on their cover (great!) they used a beautiful golden image – very sensibly set – from Hereford as the lead on their website. (then ‘others’)
John Hellings from BBC Hereford & Worcester asked to speak to me last week at All Saints in Hereford city centre. It was a good opportunity to talk about the TV show and what people thought of it – how All Saints is a thriving, living and loud church and why I call myself Father.
It’s worth pointing out that this sermon has two possible endings. One, clean and simple – the other requiring the congregation to stand and to reaffirm their baptismal vows. At both St. Michael’s and at Holy Trinity the vicar at each felt that this would be too much and so I didn’t do it (local context is everything) but in future I’m going to try this.