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When the church is a donut

A photo of my all-time favourite donut from Krispy Kreme

Q. When is the church a donut?
A. When it forgets its lessons from history.

There is something that has mystified me about the debate over women in the episcopate since the church first started debating all this aeons ago.

In recent days, the topic has been in the headlines again because the House of Bishops have made some changes to the draft legislation that will go before General Synod in July.

In this draft legislation (as amended by the House), one of the provisions for the dissenters is that they will Read more

Steve Jobs on vocation

If you are considering a call to the priesthood, if you are considering another ‘calling’ in terms of church life, or if you are just wondering what you ought to do with your life, this is one of the best things I have heard for a very long time.

If you’re running a Cafe Church or have a church where you can use video easily, then this can certainly be used in a discussion of vocation. It can also be used in talking about God’s will, about ‘when bad things happen’ and the good things that can come from failure or difficult times. Read more

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

Advice for Ordinands

Fr Simon Rundell posted some interesting advice for ordinands which I found both interesting and resonant with my own experience, so I thought I’d share it here too.

Fr Simon clearly comes from somewhere higher up the candle from me in some of his perspectives (I guess the Fr gives it away), but it’s still good stuff for those lower down. Food for thought.

I liked the ‘don’t try to say everything in one sermon’ tip which as I look ahead now to a role as Priest-in-Charge with no fixed end date feels a lot more do-able than it does when you’re a Curate.

I was also reassured to hear him say ‘if you don’t feel “one day they’ll work out I’m a fraud” that is the day to stop’. I often feel like that and was glad to find I’m not the only one! Curiously something that most clergy don’t admit to each other… even though we probably all feel it.

Great advice not least the last line: ‘Love God, even when ministry feels the loneliest place in the world’.

Where are the young women?

Today has been my last day of KIME. The photo (left) is a picture of my year group at their final meeting together.

For the uninitiated, when an Ordinand is ordained and becomes a Curate, the Church of England pushes those new, fresh-faced, eager new possessors of a clerical collar through a three year process called IME 4-7 .

You don’t finish training when you leave theological college. Much like a junior doctor, you are ‘on the wards’ now but you’re still learning and IME 4-7 is an important part of that process.

In Rochester, that means meeting up with the other Curates from this diocese and Canterbury (thus forming Kent IME or KIME) on a monthly basis for a lecture programme and series of group projects. There’s plenty I could say about what IME has been like but I’ll refrain for now.

The point of this post and a post title that could be wildly misinterpreted has been prompted by two aligning thoughts as my time on KIME comes to a close. Read more

A fuss over plastic

A photo of a clerical collar on the desk.

Amidst all the preparations for Easter (we tend to have a foreshortened Holy Week that doesn’t do much until Maundy Thursday), I’ve been reading The Faith of Generation Y. I’m sure I’ll try to write more about it in due course when I’ve finished it. However, I read a little bit today that caught my eye and got me thinking about this little piece of white plastic I wear around my neck.

“The elder end of Generation X, now in positions of church leadership, were likely to have been brought up by wartime parents. This meant a tight parenting structure with a need to step away from the family in order to create their own social spaces. When they became parents they were determined to ensure that there was not the same distance between them and their children. … Young people do not need to rebel against their parents because generally they can achieve what they want without having to do so. (Mayo et al, The Faith of Generation Y, 2010: 103-4)”

Read more

More reflections on priesthood

Man wearing a hat with caption 'take a deep breath'
Cap available for purchase at Proceeds to charity.

There’s a great deal being written on the subject of priesthood at the moment. I guess ordination season will do that for you. Anyway, I just thought I’d gather together just some of my favourites.

I know some of these link lists tend to be massively long. When I see a list like that on other blogs, I instantly switch off and don’t read any of the suggested articles. So, here’s just a small handful from some of my favourite bloggers for your interest as and when you get your own chance to ‘take a deep breath’ and reflect.

All these pieces spoke to me. I hope they speak to you too if you decide to follow them up.

  • Jody reflects on whether you are a priest, or is a priest who you are and what it means to be yourself when you also hold an office/designation/role.
  • Rob hits the missional ‘wall’ and reflects on calling when things are tough.
  • Jody (again) shares a poem by Stuart Henderson.
  • Lesley reflects on what it means to be a priest.

Cap available for purchase at
All profits from the sale of this particular cap go to Stephanie Butler to help with her lung transplant expenses.

Guest writer: A reflection on priesthood

A photo of Tiffer Robinson at his priesting

It was my great privilege to be present last Saturday in St Edmundsbury Cathedral as my former theological college colleague, good friend, and occasional commenter on this blog, Christopher (Tiffer) Robinson was ordained priest. Many congratulations to him and his wife Amy – it was good to see him finally make it to his own big day.

Given this blog occasionally includes some of my own reflections on priesthood and to celebrate this occasion for my good friend, I’ve invited Tiffer to be my very first ever guest blogger on this website and to do some reflecting of his own now that he too is a ‘wannabepriest’ no more.

So over to Tiffer…!

“I was very nervous about being ordained priest.  This is for two interlinked reasons.  One is that I have an ecclesiologial conviction that we have got the diaconate wrong in the Church of England – being ordained a deacon one year and a priest the next (sometimes with only 9 months between them) has come to be seen as almost probationary, a mere hat-tip to the Christian value of servant leadership. Read more

Top 10 tips for staying healthy as a Curate in a Vacancy

A screengrab from Google showing zero results for the search phrase "Healthy Vicar"

I received a call the other day from a colleague who is doing some research work on clergy well-being and asked me for my top ten tips on how to stay healthy as a Curate in a Vacancy. I’ve given it some thought and produced my list which, with his permission, I reproduce below. Oh, and by the way, that really is a screengrab from Google – I didn’t mock that up.

The early ones in this list are general tips for ordained life rather than specifically about a vacancy or being a curate. The later ones are more specific to the kind of situation I’m in now.

I have to say too, as something of a disclaimer, that some of these are more aspirational in my life right now than reality before anyone who knows me cries ‘hypocrite’!!! I do know that I need to work harder at Read more

Lashing oneself to the mast

An old drawing of a ship in a storm

With the end of the Summer, it’s more than high time that the articles started to flow here at ‘Wannabe’ and it’s been an interesting time of late. I’ve got a bunch of stuff in the RSS feeder that has been stacking up waiting for investigation, comment or just plain getting on with giving the thoughts of others whom I follow the time those thoughts most definitely deserve.

For me, the last few days have been all about those ordination vows once again.

I was present at Rochester Cathedral (along with pretty much everyone else it seems) on Saturday to say goodbye to Michael Nazir-Ali, outgoing Bishop of Rochester. The geography of the Cathedral (like many/most/all Cathedrals) is such that most of the action happened in the Nave in front of the massive organ and choir screen beneath it so that most people could see what was going on. However, I was sitting in the Quire with all the other clergy ‘blind’ to that action. Nevertheless, late in the service, the action transferred to the High Altar where Read more