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Long way come, long way to go

A photo of a bridge, looking straight ahead to the path, at dawn

Today is a funny day. As I look out my window, there is a hive of activity around the church and various people fuss around getting ready for the big service tonight as I’m licensed and installed as Priest-in-Charge of my new benefice.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting and watching unsure of what to do with myself.

In some senses, tonight feels more important to the church than it does to me. In many ways, that’s right. They haven’t happened to have a service like this one for 29 years. They’ve only had two in the last fifty years. They don’t come around very often and it’s a visible sign of a new chapter beginning in their lives.

I just happen to be the focal point of that turning of the page… but it’s their book, not mine.

In that sense, I cross this bridge tonight… one that has been seven years in the making… for others rather than for my family and I.

That’s a thought to ponder.. Read more

This town, is coming like a ghost town

Wannabe on the water

With apologies for the minor silence in the last week, it’s time for a catch-up and a reflection!

Just over a week ago, we had the ‘Leavers’ Service’ at Ridley Hall – the last official engagement for all those who are leaving college this year to take up curacies and, of course, be ordained. We duly sent them out with our blessing and our prayers and in the day or two that followed, I watched them all moving out of Ridley.

It was a VERY weird experience. Over the last year, I have got to know some lovely people and it’s a strange thing to be watching them leave. Nevertheless, we all came here in order to ‘go’ and so it has proved a salutary and necessary reminder as to what we are here to do and to be.

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Rights of reply

Just a brief one, but in the ongoing saga of the Wycliffe Hall controversy, there are two articles worth reading from Wycliffe Hall and one of their students. I’m not going to comment on Dr Turnbull’s reply in the Guardian, there’s plenty of response amongst the comments on that site to last a lifetime. There’s a fair amount of detritus in such discussions online and most of it I can happily live without, but there’s a few comments there genuinely worth reading… problem is spotting them when there is so much guff. Ultimately, though, focus on Dr Turnbull’s response. That’s the important bit.

Elsewhere, an old Sheffield University friend of mine, Richard England, has started blogging and has posted his thoughts on the situation as a Wycliffe Hall ordinand. As far as I know, he’s the only ordinand at Wycliffe to say anything about it thus far (mainly because I understand they were asked not to do so). It will be no surprise to regular readers to hear I disagree with his analysis but I do find it interesting that he ends up in 1 Corinthians as I have at various points (one and two) in this debate. I am becoming more convinced that Paul’s letter to a Corinthian church riven by ambition, factions and competition looks like it has a considerable amount to say to the Church of England at present.

The mind of Christ is cross shaped

It’s been a busy week – a busy few weeks in fact. Tomorrow is deadline day for the second semester essays here at Ridley. Essentially, academically speaking, it’s the culmination of my first year. In the last few weeks and days, I’ve written four different essays. There is one on iconography and what it can teach us about using film and imagery in church today, I’ve critiqued the implementation of a church vision, I’ve sketched out an enquirers course and written up why I did it that way and I’ve written an essay about in what sense, if any, was Jesus being punished on the cross when he died. All interesting stuff – I’ve enjoyed it. Even if it’s been flippin hard work at times!

I may be relaxing now but I have a feeling that while I’m finished, there may be one or two of my colleagues pulling an all-nighter tonight to get it all done. *cough* Tiffer *cough*

In the midst of it all, I had to lead and preach at my attachment church’s evening prayer service tonight. It was chucking it down with rain outside and I like to think it was the weather that affected attendance rather than knowledge that I was leading and preaching! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, the vicar said that my sermon deserved a wider audience. So I am giving it one here! πŸ™‚

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Sunday programme on Wycliffe Hall & evangelicalism

Sunday programme logo

The Radio 4 Sunday programme had a long ten minute piece on the situation at Wycliffe Hall which didn’t say much that isn’t already known for those that have been following along. However, if you haven’t, it’s worth a listen to get a brief overview. (update: the slot starts 34 mins into the programme).

Richard Turnbull didn’t appear although they used clips from his Reform video but Christina Rees, Graham Kings, Pete Broadbent and Chris Sugden and David Peterson do all speak within the segment.

Graham Kings’ quote in the report that there needs to be ‘rigour withour rancour’ amongst the open, charismatic and conservative evangelical streams comes from this document on the Fulcrum website which may be helpful if you’re trying to work out the difference between these groups… although I’m not sure whether different people might like to be likened to canals, rivers or rapids!

*** Update ***

Other stuff of interest:

Losing my religion

Losing my religion

So, The Guardian have sharpened their knives and have them fully trained on eviscerating Richard Turnbull, principal at Wycliffe Hall.

I mused about whether I would blog on the situation at Wycliffe again and I do so somewhat reluctantly, but I can’t but comment on Richard’s speech to the Reform conference last year which is now doing the rounds on the Internet and which forms the basis of this latest blast from the Guardian. It’s about a 15 minute video so do take the time to watch it, if you haven’t already.

It’s hard to know where to start really…

There’s a lot I could say about the current troubles. About conversations I’ve had with people at Wycliffe or people who know people at Wycliffe. Certainly there are different opinions as to what is going on. Conservatives seeing him as the new broom which will inevitably stir up dissension from those who disagree, some admitting he has a tendency to put his foot squarely in his mouth. There are others who are deeply disturbed by events and disagree strongly with his approach. Anything I say is conjecture really and with the Wycliffe bloggers effectively on cease and desist orders, there’s not much that we can find out in this media, so I am not going to talk about that.

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More on Wycliffe – please do pray

Various things are starting to emerge regarding Wycliffe Hall… at least more press response:

  1. Anglican Mainstream carried a statement from the College Council
  2. Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper have both run articles this week (CEN basically reproduced the Anglican Mainstream one).

It is also THE topic of conversation here at Ridley Hall and, no doubt, at other theological colleges around the country. There are some very worrying things written in the coverage: Read more

It’s like Chelsea got relegated!

I wish.

No, the news in the Guardian today is that all is not well at Wycliffe Hall College over in Oxford with a mass exodus of staff upset at the principal, Dr Richard Turnbull.

Now, of course, I know better than to trust what I read in the newspapers and I will watch what happens in the next few days as, no doubt, various parties put their cases forward. Personally, I’m feeling quite glad that my DDO steered me away from even looking at the college and, also not entirely surprised that there’s a ruckus, after Dr Turnbull was one of the signatories on my least favourite document of the year – that covenant farce. I can’t tell you how glad I was when Ridley put some significant distance between themselves and that whole business.

I do feel incredibly sorry for the students, some of whom I know. I will be watching their blogs with great interest in the next few days and weeks – not least to see if they get stomped on with censorship. If you are a praying sort, then it might not be a bad idea to start putting in some serious prayer – for them especially but also the situation that will now be menacing above them like some dark thunder cloud.

Nevertheless, my first thought was to call my principal and encourage him to get on the blower! It’s like Chelsea being relegated – seriously good teachers and academics suddenly looking for jobs! Don’t get me wrong, Ridley have got great staff and some really good teachers… but there’s nothing wrong with trying to make the best a bit better. πŸ˜‰

Where does Ridley aim its worship?

A friend sent me yesterday a link to this interesting little article from a Stateside blogger about a session at Seabury, an Episcopal theological college in the US. I’ve not met Bishop Neil Alexander but I know various people in the USA who really rate him very highly and it sounds like a great session as he and faculty and ordained staff at Seabury considered models for worship within a theological college.

I am sure our principal, as a former Liturgical Commission member, shares such a deep concern to shape us as worshippers and to enable us to be future shapers of fellow worshippers in the Church of England. I’ve been kind of wondering about Neil Alexander’s models and which one might apply to Ridley. I don’t think any of them quite describe Ridley’s approach but I think we probably come closest to the ‘creative’ worship approach.

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aah, eey, eee, ohhh, ooooh

Courtesy of

Last Friday, our first lecture of term was a double session with a voice coach. Regular readers of this blog will have noted that this is something I was quite keen to see happen at Ridley and so I was very glad of the opportunity. It was quite an experience and definitely deserves a little blog post.

It wasn’t quite like Dave Walker’s cartoon, but not far off as collectively as a year group we did breathing exercises, breathed in with hands in the air and then pushed our hands down as we breathed out – Karate Kid stylee. We stuck our fingers between our teeth and made vowel sounds to raise our soft palate – aah, eey, eee, ohhh, ooooh, and lots of other things to try and improve our ability to speak clearly.

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