Thursday, November 11, 2010

Buy One, Get One Free?

Two Vicars for the price of one (completely free if one is an NSM not bothered about expenses or fees) may be the result if some wishes of the ordinariate-bound congregations are met.

Some of the present diocesans in the Church of England are indicating that they would be prepared to countenance church sharing arrangements with an ordinariate congregation.

That is fine, generous and lovely ...

but ... didn't I hear that it was the Anglican tradition for incumbents to keep away after they leave at least for a decent time? A colleague of mine described the scenario after his PCC meetings as being that the hard core of them "left the Vicarage and went into Canon xxxx's house straightaway for the real PCC meeting." Not what any of us want, I'm sure.

In Shropshire my predecessor lived next door to the church in one of the parishes under my care. Although some parishioners tried to use him to stir up trouble or get their own agenda done, he proved a valuable source of information and background to parish and deanery life and a valued mentor. We had been brought up in the same county, more or less, and the common language and thought forms helped bridge the age gap.

Goodwill might prevail in churches where the church sharing ordinariate priest was their previous incumbent. However this cannot possibly be ensured and some divisions from the process of the departure to Rome could well be still hurtful. I feel fairly sure this is why most bishops seem diffident in the matter, rightly so.

One hopes that this particular conundrum is being considered and a solution being found as the arrangements start to roll out. In any case it does rather look a half-price advertisement, "You buy one; you get one free." Sharing the costs would be a good idea, if evaluated carefully from the start!

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Armistice Day

Good morning on Armistice Day.

It is of course the Feast Day of that splendid ex-soldier St. Martin. There is a windown in All Saints, Longstanton which pictures him alongside St. George. It is next to the font and reminds us all that entry into membership of the church means both loving service to others and sacrifice.

So, I suggest that the time has come for us to sacrifice our internal warfare over women's ministry, and love and serve those around us. However the blogosphere look as if warfare is bound to continue - vicious, petty, and often scaring in its woeful lack of any basis in reality.

I commend, therefore, a couple of useful comments from my mentor when completing my Ph.D.:

first the comment that the university wasn't all that interested in my personal opinions but in my describing the opinions, writings, actions and lifework of those whom I was studying - the sheer nastiness of so many posts on the interent underlines the wisdom of that advice;

Along with that was a question he asked regularly and which I took over into my practice as a counsellor and tutor in counselling and pastoral care - the question "Where is the evidence?"
It is a good question and goes along with the saying, of Fritz Perls the founder of gestalt psychotherapy, "The facts are friendly. They all that we have to deal with." Indeed, beyond the facts there is only speculation, including of course scientific investigation and sound academic research ... maybe.

It would help if the advocates for the different approaches to the present debates would adopt such objectivity. However, they have a problem in that the Vatican has not defined exactly what the ordinariate is to be in practice. Until then, opinion is more likely to remain our primary option until the facts are known. When they are known they will surely be very friendly? However, that is, of course, only my opinion.

One fact is very, that clear the numbers moving into the ordinariate will be small in terms of the Church of England they leave ... and just as small in terms of the Church they join. I shall not speculate on the numbers who will join them after the move has been made, nor on the numbers joining the Church of England after they have gone.

In the meantime, we would do well to concentrate on the facts: some are leaving and making their plans to do so; some are remaining; both sets are small in number. They are no threat to anyone. So why not end the fuss and begin to make peace?

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