29 Apr 2018 • From the Clergy
“The road is long, with many a winding turn, that takes us to who knows where ….” is the opening line of one of my favourite songs and it takes very little effort or imagination to apply it to my present situation. The road to Ordination is a long and often winding road strewn with “Pot-holes” to avoid and diversions to negotiate but some great “view-points” along the way too. Ordination, though, was not the final destination, only an important landmark and then the road led me on to St Johns where I served my curacy and loved every minute of it – certainly for the first two and a half years anyway. After that, as we all know, the road got very bumpy for a while but eventually smoothed out and brought me to my Licensing Service and installation as Curate-in-Charge for St Clements and Team Vicar Designate for the proposed West Worcester Team. Despite some concerns over the weather in the days immediately before my licensing, that was a wonderful occasion and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who supported me and helped to create such a joyful and memorable evening. Now I’ve been asked to reflect on my journey here and share some of my vision for the future – to say something of what was discussed with my “discernment panel” in December.
Many of you have read or heard about my journey to ordination several times already so I won’t bore you with that story again! Suffice to say, my discernment process began in July 2008 and I was ordained in June 2014. Of far greater interest now, I imagine, is my vision for the future. Like Phil said in his letter last month, to speak in terms of “my vision” would be, in many ways, to give a false impression. We have worked well together as a team in the last (nearly) four years and I hope and pray we will continue to do so in the future in our service of God and His people of West Worcester. We will work together to help all the churches unite to form the sort of team which will serve both the people and God most effectively. I think both Phil and I also believe in consultation and so we will impose very little on you without due consultation and will take views offered into consideration when making our decisions. Having said that, to quote a comment made to me in the week following my licensing: “They chose you to lead them” and there will be times when Phil and I will have to do that as we think best, trusting you to trust us! As we make this transition into a “proper” functioning team, there will, inevitably, be changes made and compromises reached but hopefully this will all be done in a sensitive, prayerful and wise manner.
Having agreed with Phil that to speak too much of a personal vision, may be unwise, I also feel that your parish representatives would have done you a grave disservice had they appointed somebody who could lay claim to no vision at all for the future of our churches. So, what did I say to the panel back in December? What follows is a brief summary of the main points.
- I feel that there is a perceived hierarchy amongst the churches of our group, in part perpetuated by the clergy, which I would like to see redressed. Whilst it cannot be denied that St Johns has by far the best facilities in terms of rooms and car parking, all of the other churches have strengths and gifts that could be shared. I would like to see a much greater coming together of our congregations for worship, service and social purposes.
- I will, (eventually!) be moving into a large, modern house, with plenty of rooms, a good-sized garden and a summer house. Whilst this is obviously Mum’s home as well as mine, I see it primarily as a group resource. I hope to see it used regularly as a venue for meetings, social events and Quiet Days. (The first of these is already booked; Prince Harry’s “Wedding Reception” on May 19th – details to follow).
- All of the churches have, at various times, highlighted their concerns regarding children and young people. Phil and I have already begun the process of talking with the diocese about the possibility of having a diocesan Mission Enabler placed with us. More information about this will follow but briefly, this is somebody who won’t do the work for us, but will offer advice and help us to develop and build on what is already provided. I have also spoken to the head teacher of St Clements School about improving links between us, particularly in regard to Open The Book which has been struggling lately.
- St David’s Church is in the heart of “Student land” and yet attempts to reach out to the students have so far been unsuccessful. I want to look at ways in which we can reach students and other younger people, including the uniformed organisations.
- Ecumenical, and indeed inter-faith, relationships are something which matter to me and I would like to see the Anglican Churches of West Worcester take a leading role in reviving the struggling Churches Together Group.