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Café Church stations: Holy Spirit

A photo of heart-shaped marshmallows

Earlier this month I was part of was my final Café Church service here in Walderslade before I move to pastures new. I’m not yet sure whether such services will be part of my future ministry or not; we need to do some listening and seeing what’s appropriate to the local community and the churches that I’ll be working with.

So this might be the last downloadable station for a while. I’m not sure, I may keep writing stations for the sake of it anyway, even if I can’t use them personally.

Anyway, in the last three Café Church services, we’ve been following a series on the Creed (driven by friend and colleague Brad Cook) and looking at the Father, the Son and Spirit in turn.

With the focus on the Holy Spirit this month, there are a couple of stations available to download (PDF file) that might be of use either in a similar setting or perhaps at Pentecost time. Lots of flames and fire, so be ready with your health and safety!

Rt Rev Douglas Coupland please step forward

A cartoon representation of a faceless Generation X Bishop

In the course of my recent efforts to complete my Masters dissertation, I noticed something interesting. You might not have noticed it but in 2009 a quiet, unannounced seachange began in the House of Bishops. It was nothing to do with women or homosexuality. Nope. It started amongst the Suffragans when Paul Williams (Kensington) became the first.

Since then Jonathan Frost (Southampton) joined him in 2010 and Jonathan Baker (Ebbsfleet) has arrived in 2011 to join an exclusive club that is only going to get larger and larger. It probably won’t be long before a diocesan Bishop joins the group and, depending on how you draw your boundaries, Mark Sowerby (Horsham), Mark Rylands (Shrewsbury) and John Holbrook (Brixworth) might also be eligible to join.

What is this mysterious group that seems to cross churchmanship lines and theological traditions? Well, all those Bishops were born in the 1960s and Williams, Frost and Baker are most definitely the first entrants into the House of Bishops from the so-called “Generation X”.

The exact boundaries of a generation are always a bit fuzzy, but following Sara Savage and friends in Making Sense of Generation Y, Generation X are those 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

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