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Trendy Vicars look like Neo!

A photo of Keanu Reeves as Neo in the Matrix

The Daily Mail isn’t prone to running ridiculous stories about Trendy Vicars, at least not since they last did it a month ago. It does slightly boggle the mind, however, to think that the Daily Mail thought the best way to greet Christmas was with a ridiculous story about Trendy Vicars and what they choose to wear in church.

“Never mind the Cassocks” they say, “vicars could soon be conducting services in shell-suits, shorts or even football shirts under radical plans to overturn centuries of Church tradition.”

“The Horror” says the nation. “Typical” says Mr Angry of Tunbridge Wells. “Pile of garbage, Daily Mail” says anyone with an ounce of common sense.

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The discrepancy between Diocesan and General Synods


The list of who voted yes and no in the debate on women bishops (opens PDF) has now been published. Electronic voting systems have their plus points and their negatives, I guess.

The Head of Communications for the CofE has encouraged everyone to “love your enemies” as they look through the list.

I certainly think it is important that people don’t vilify or criticise those who chose to vote ‘no’. That doesn’t help anyone.

I would, however, like to use it to illustrate something of the Read more

Where did it go wrong? Structural issues have done us

A photo of tears, frustration and disappointment at General Synod today

I appreciate that, in the rarified bubble that clergy can sometimes inhabit, it probably feels like the entire world will have noticed tonight that the Church of England has failed at the final hurdle to pass legislation to enable women to enter the ranks of Bishops.

I’m sure the reality is that lots of people aren’t paying the blindest bit of notice.

I’m not going to comment on the why’s and wherefore’s of those in favour and those against. My task now, like all of us in the church, is to Read more

If it was me, I’m starting to think I’d say no…

A word cloud on the subject of women bishops
Word Cloud by Rt Rev David Hamid

Anyone keeping an eye on the Church of England will not need me to tell them that in July this year, General Synod will be given the chance to provide ‘Final Approval’ to the legislation that will finally allow women to be bishops. I appreciate it is likely to be a close run thing anyway and it’s by no means certain that they will get two-thirds approval in each of the houses of bishops, clergy and laity in order for it to pass.

That said, with something of a heavy heart, I think General Synod should say no and reject ‘final approval’ and thus throw out the possibility, for now, that women can become bishops.

Let me be clear. I support women’s ordination. I think that it is self-evident that they should be in the House of Bishops as well. I can construct a solid, biblically-based argument, to say that women have been leaders from the very earliest days of the church and that Read more

There are good men in the House of Bishops

Bishops at General Synod

There are some good men in the House of Bishops.

There, I said it.

With the decision of the House of Bishops to amend the draft legislation for women in the episcopate, all sorts of stuff has been written about this particular bench of bishops. Little of it complimentary.

This is the first of two posts I’m going to make about the proposed Final Approval for women in the episcopate, but before I say what I want to say about that, I want to Read more

Synod, wedding fees and the other side of the story

A photo of a pretty church building and a pretty wedding!

In my previous post on this blog, I had a go at Synod for rejecting the proposals for wedding fees since it allows some churches, some not too far from me, to continue taking advantage of couples with exorbitant prices.

Since then, I’ve not had any public comments but I’ve had a few private emails from clergy colleagues who have been wise to give me another side to the story. They have made me think further and I want to share some of that thinking here.

As with all things, there are always (and at least) two ways to look at a situation and I guess much of people’s engagement with this particular debate depends on where you stand. I currently work in a fairly non-descript, sixties church building that is relatively easy to heat, isn’t falling down, but also does few weddings. One of the reasons we do very few is because a very pretty medieval church nearby absorbs them all (with some hefty fees to match).

However, if you are working in a very old church, or one that is very large in size (either of which could make it difficult to heat) you might read this debate differently Read more

Synod, wedding fees and allowing some churches to rake it in

A photo of a pretty church building and a pretty wedding!

In other news from General Synod, I hear they have decided to reject the call to raise the fees for weddings and funerals.

A good thing too, you might think. However, it’s not quite as simple as it seems.

So what are the positives? Well, the proposed move was to make some pretty sharp hikes in the basic costs of a funeral (£102 to £150) and weddings (£284 to £425) as part of a larger body of work sorting out the way in which the church charges for occasional offices.

However, in anyone’s book, those price rises are pretty steep and, naturally, many clergy, church congregations and Synod members were concerned about what that might mean for mission and ministry at local level. It may not be much of the overall bill for a wedding or a funeral, but it’s still a hefty increase and it doesn’t really look good.

And herein lies the problem. Read more

Mission Action Planning and the CofE

A photo of General Synod in York

It’s July which, in Church of England terms, means that most of the great and the good are in York for the regular General Synod Group of Sessions. Not much to excite the newspapers this time around but some journalists have made some mileage out of the CofE being threatened with extinction within a Private Member’s motion (PDF file) from the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

The motion pushes for a national ‘Mission Action Plan’ to go alongside various efforts made at diocesan level and at parish level (and at deanery level for that matter) to use Mission Action Plans in stimulating strategic thought for the future.

Slightly disappointly, there is a attached note in the papers (PDF file) for the same debate from the Mission & Public Affairs Council quashing the idea because MAPs are not really viable at national level and they should be left alone to get on with their national mission initiatives (they don’t say that, but that’s what I think they mean).

Although I’m being cheeky and disparaging, I think the Mission & Public Affairs Council do have a point. Read more

Synod 3: Interesting comment on Synod elections

Dave Walker cartoon, courtesy of

Following on the theme of Synod-related posts at the moment, I thought I would link to several recent articles that I found both enjoyable and interesting during the election process and now that our new Synod gets ready to be inaugurated:

Synod 2: The untold story of the Crown Nominations Commission

Ernest Borgnine in "Red"

The other week, I went to see the new movie Red with a fellow Curate. Enjoyable, silly shtick it was too (what’s not to like about the regal Helen Mirren wielding a .50 calibre machine gun in a ball gown?) However, I digress. I mention it because, halfway through the movie, there is a lovely scene where the CIA’s retired Bruce Willis goes down to a long-forgotten-about vault to consult paper files stewarded by a long-forgotten-about Ernest Borgnine (perfect casting really… I thought he was dead. Seriously… no offence meant but I really thought he had died).

The scene came to my mind today as I sat down to recount the story of the Diocese of Rochester’s Vacancy-in-See Committee and our particular troubles with Synodical elections.

Cast your mind back to 2009 and the resignation of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali. I guess a Vacancy-in-See Committee is a little bit like Ernest Borgnine in the vaults of the CIA. Read more