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Wannabe no more

Photos and comment will follow but I guess I’m not a wannabe anymore.

This afternoon sometime around 4pm, I was ordained priest by the Rt Revd Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge, at Rochester Cathedral. As I and ten others knelt in turn and received the laying on of hands, the heavens opened outside and it poured with rain battering the roof of the cathedral.

It’s been a long day but a great day.

So, I’ll say no more for the moment except that I can legitimately say to you, reader, for the first time…

May God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love,
defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Rent asunder

I had a surreal experience today in my last week of not being a priest.

I had the privilege of baptising a little girl this morning in our main morning service, which was great. This afternoon, I was walking down a road in our parish on my way to a funeral visit for a lady for whom I am officiating at the funeral in a couple of days time. What I hadn’t clocked before that moment was that the two families lived just a few doors apart.

As I passed the ‘baptism’ family’s house, there was a party going on in the garden, music and laughter. A big banner over their front door with the words ‘christening’ repeated many times colourfully on shiny paper. A few doors down, I came to my destination. No party here. Quiet, curtains closed, sombre. A family mourning the loss of a dearly loved mother and granny.

It felt odd to be torn in two directions so overtly on the same day. Of course, we ‘hatch’ and ‘dispatch’ on a regular basis but placed next to each other like this, it felt very odd indeed. I felt my heart being torn in two directions for the two families, as if in the middle of a tug-of-war.

It reminded me of something Michael Ramsey, a former Archbishop, wrote about being a priest – albeit with a slightly different focus in mind:

‘In the minister’s one person the human spirit speaks to God, and the Holy Spirit speaks to men. No wonder he is often rent asunder. No wonder he snaps in such tension. It broke the heart of Christ. But it let out in the act the heart of God’ (Ramsey, 1985: 4)

Chris Moyles talks up church

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StEDAjhuiTo[/youtube]

I know I should probably be listening to Radio Two by now at the age of 35 but more often than not, I listen to Radio One and I love the Chris Moyles show in the mornings.

Anyway, somehow I missed this conversation from a recent broadcast in which Chris related his experience of watching a Pentecostal church service on the BBC. It’s fascinating… in terms of what ordinary people in the wider world think about church, the general levels of ignorance (no surprise there) and about what might appeal to them.

Apparently Synod won’t get a say in CHP

Church House Publishing

As I understand it from people inside CHP, the deal relating to the outsourcing of CHP’s publishing function is due to be signed today.

It seems that General Synod won’t get a chance to have their say. While I’m aware of a couple of questions regarding CHP that have been submitted for the July Group of Sessions, it seems that it will all be pretty academic by then.

With the exception of a couple of people transferring to Hymns Ancient & Modern and a couple of people who will be the in-house publishing department of the Archbishops’ Council (i.e. the CHP command structure), the rest will be made redundant and by July, when Synod meet, it seems very feasible that some of them will already be gone.

Now, for some readers, that may not seem out of the ordinary. Read more

What I’ve been reading this weekend

The wisdom of Burke

British National Party

In the wake of the elections in this country last week and the news that the United Kingdom will be sending two MEPs to Europe on our behalf from the British National Party, I am thinking two thoughts.

Firstly, I am reminded of a (slightly Real Ale fuelled) conversation with a clergy colleague of mine who was so disgusted with the entire political system that he had chosen not to vote in the election at all.

Secondly, I noted today that the BNP won two seats in these elections even though they had fewer votes than they did in 2004. Sounds odd doesn’t it? The reason being that the European elections work on a kind of proportional representation system and because only 34% of people used their vote this time around, overall the BNP had a higher percentage of the vote and so they claimed two seats.

So, basically, a big reason why the BNP now have two MEPs is because a whole bunch of people, two thirds of those who are eligible to vote, did not do so.

Edmund Burke, an Irish politician of the 18th Century (1729-1797), once famously said:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

We took our pre-school age children to the voting polls last week. We explained to them how important it is that we use the vote that we have been given. We explained to them how some people in the world don’t get a vote and how bad that is. We explained to them how some people had fought hard to win the vote, including (for our little girl) the right of women to vote. Seems like many people, including some of my clergy colleagues, could do with going back to pre-school too.

the end of the beginning

Dave dressed as a deacon

At the risk of daring to veer off-topic at the present time by not mentioning CHP in a blog post (doh, done it again), the other big thing currently occurring in my life is that I’m t-minus 21 days from being ordained as a priest in the Church of England.

The contrast to last year couldn’t be more stark. Released by theological college in June and ordained in September, I was able to take some time to read a book or two about what being a deacon was all about. I sat down with the Ordinal and went through the helpful study guide that goes with it (sad I know, but I did) in fine detail making pencil annotations as I went. I went into the retreat in a good frame of mind and I was geared entirely for the change of ‘state’.

This year, of course, I’m now a serving member of the clergy, full-time in ministry (are there any clergy who aren’t?) and up to my neck in preaching, funerals, baptism preparations, leading services, trying to find time to study for a dissertation, leading the children and youth work, preparing for a holiday club in July and whatever else comes across my path in a given day or given week. So, the time and the opportunities to contemplate my navel and consider what it means to be a priest have been few and far between.

Nevertheless, I intend to do just such reflection Read more

First CofE response to letter about CHP

I understand that the CEN has published a letter today from Peter Crumpler, Director of Communications for the Archbishops’ Council and my former boss’ boss, in response to my letter of last week. It reads:

Sir, The Rev David Green is wrong to assert that the Archbishops’ Council’s proposed outsourcing of its publishing operation to Hymns Ancient & Modern – an Anglican charity with an excellent track record of publishing – will mean that ‘commercial concerns will trump all others’.
The intention is that the Council would continue to publish a range of titles to support the ministry and mission of the Church under its Church House Publishing imprint, with HA&M acting as its production and marketing arm. Under the proposed arrangements, which are still subject to contract, the Council would retain control over what is published and agree the terms with HA&M.
The Council’s belief is that its long-term commitment to publishing liturgy, key reference titles and other resources for the Church can be better and more cost-effectively secured in partnership with Hymns Ancient & Modern than by an in-house arrangement which, over the last few years, has required considerably more annual subsidy from the Council than the figure that David Green quotes.

I love Peter’s emphasis that Hymns Ancient & Modern are an Anglican charity with an excellent track record. As if that was ever in doubt.

Nevertheless, it’s helpful as far as it goes. It does leave some key questions unanswered (particularly about the new media operation) but just as I was limited in how much I could write or ask about in the original letter so Peter’s response is limited by the same constraints. Comments?

Letters to the editor

Church of England Newspaper banner

Well, I think I’ve nearly done about all I can do to raise the issue with the wider Church of England of the proposed outsourcing of CHP. Last week, I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Church of England Newspaper and I sent the same letter to the Editor of the Church Times.

The letter borrowed heavily from the language on this blog that I’ve used to try and highlight this issue and to express dissatisfaction with the potential future for the Church of England’s publishing output, should it become subject to purely commercial concerns.

The Church of England Newspaper published my letter (they even made it the central letter on the page, which was nice of them). The Church Times did not. However, it’s worth noting that the CT did contact me to say that they needed to run it past one or two people before they published because CT’s owners, Hymns Ancient & Modern, are the company involved in the negotations for the outsourcing of CHP.

I think that’s fair enough although I will be very disappointed if they conclude they can’t publish this week. As Phil Groom has said elsewhere, the ownership of the CT should not, surely, be a barrier to open and honest reporting. We’ll have to wait and see I suppose.

I’ve also raised the issue on the Visual Liturgy discussion email list and there’s a fair old discussion now going on over there about the future of VL.

I think the last I can do (and will do) is contact my diocesan representatives on General Synod. Here’s hoping that these things get properly considered and that Synod and the Archbishops’ Council consider properly the question as to what they want from an official publisher and whether they’re prepared to subsidise that by a small amount each year (if necessary) in order to achieve their larger goals in communication, resourcing and mission.