Well. Here we are. At the end of my curacy and about to start the next chapter. The problem with new chapters is that they inevitably mean leaving behind the last. Sometimes, that’s easy. Sometimes the last chapter wasn’t grand and it’s a huge relief to turn the page. But often it’s very tough.
St. Mary’s welcomed us from Hereford after a rather tough time. Things hadn’t gone to plan and whilst the vast majority of people in Hereford became dear friends there were a small monitory of people who made life very difficult for us. We arrived broken and exhausted. But Fr. Edward swept us up, rescued us from that period and patched us up with his enthusiasm and deep love.
Within a very short period of time we were made to feel part of the family. We were embraced and loved; encouraged and lifted aloft on a wave of friendship, passion and a deep understanding of the message of Jesus Christ in practice.
Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Sarah made a place for us in The Diocese of London and we are are over the moon that we can now make a more permanent home here.
We are heartbroken to be leaving St. Mary’s and its wonderful people – it’s been so hard to do so without a party… something St. Mary’s does so well! We will be coming back to St. Mary’s later in the year when lockdown permits and we will have that party, tell stories, laugh and cry together.
Over the last few months St. Mary’s and St. Anselm’s have become close family and we pray that will continue after lockdown.
I am thrilled to announce that from the 22nd July 2020 I will be the new Priest in Charge at St. Anselm’s, Hayes.
Hayes is an extraordinary town that has a diverse and vibrant life. It’s situated to the West of London on the Grand Union Canal and was the home of EMI – which is where, amongst other things, the Beatles albums were pressed before being sent around the world.
Its position on the Grand Union Canal, the M4 and now on Crossrail means it has always been a hub of exciting new ideas and life. A place of interaction between many different communities, cultures, and histories.
My calling has always been to find the spark of God in everyone and fan it into an inferno of Love in Jesus Christ. I look forward to serving the people of Hayes in that Love.
Why now? This is the usual period of time it takes from entrance to seminary to first post – six years in total of formal training. I now go into my first church where I am responsible (with the Bishop) for the cure of souls of the parish. It will be my job to care for and love the people of Hayes Town as a father does his children.
Catherine and I looked back at our diaries this week to see how long we had been on this path. My first meeting about this was eight years ago… in some ways that time has flown by, in others… it’s moved rather more slowly!
We move towards the end of June, there’s lots and lots to organise before we get to that point – not least the incredibly hard goodbye to the people and families of St. Mary’s, Kenton where I will have served the last 16 months of my curacy. I will post separately about that nearer the time of us actually leaving.
My last Sunday in the parish of St. Mary’s will be the 21st June 2020 (Fathers Day), and my licensing at St. Anselm’s, Hayes will be on the 22nd July 2020 (St. Mary Magdalen) at 7pm, you are all very warmly invited.
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’)